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


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

Foreclosure Review
Get Business Alerts:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also on HuffPost:

Related News On Huffington Post:

Bank Of America Supplied Answers For ‘Independent’ Foreclosure Reviewers

ProPublica: The Independent Foreclosure Review is the government’s main effort to compensate homeowners for harm they suffered at the hands of banks — and, as…

Central Valley Foreclosures: Few Homeowners Taking Advantage Of Reviews

MODESTO — Nearly 50,000 Northern San Joaquin Valley homeowners potentially may be owed compensation for financial losses they incurred because of errors made during foreclosure…

Foreclosure-Prevention Roadshow Still Drawing Crowds Indicating Not All Is Well In The Housing Market

* NACA has hosted more than 100 events to assist homeowners * Group plays middleman between borrowers and banks * Foreclosures down from last year,…

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

by Paul Kiel ProPublica, Nov. 9, 2012, 1:18 p.m. An executive who the Justice Department says facilitated a scheme to defraud Fannie Mae and…

How to chase Chase – People sometimes ask me why do you publish all this stuff. My slogan IF YOUR ENEMY IS MY ENEMY THAN WE ARE FRIENDS !!!!

People sometimes ask me why do you publish all this stuff. My slogan IF YOUR ENEMY IS MY ENEMY THAN WE ARE FRIENDS

2. RESOURCES — Pleadings, Orders, and Exhibits

On this page you will find descriptions and links to various pleadings, orders, and exhibits filed by attorneys as well as individuals representing themselves. Where the outcome is known, that information is included. These documents are public records and are made available for your information, but their accuracy, competency, and effectiveness have not been verified. Only a judge can rule on a pleading and only an appellate court opinion that is certified for publication can be cited as precedent. That said, it can be both educational and entertaining to see how the great race is unfolding in the historic controversy of People v. Banks. For an entertaining public outing of history’s all-time greatest pickpockets, go see the documentary “Inside Job.”

Federal District Court

Carswell v. JPMorgan Chase, Case No. CV10-5152 GW

George Wu, Judge, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Los Angeles
Douglas Gillies, attorney for Margaret Carswell

Plaintiff sued to halt a foreclosure initiated by JPMorgan Chase and California Reconveyance Co. on the grounds of failure to contract, wrongful foreclosure, unjust enrichment, RESPA and TILA violations, and fraud. She asked for quiet title and declaratory relief. Chase responded with a Motion to Dismiss. At a hearing on September 30, 2010, Judge Wu granted defendants’ motion to dismiss with leave to amend. Plaintiff’s First Amended Complaint was filed on October 18. It begins:

It was the biggest financial bubble in history. During the first decade of this century, banks abandoned underwriting practices and caused a frenzy of real estate speculation by issuing predatory loans that ultimately lowered property values in the United States by 30-50%. Banks reaped the harvest. Kerry Killinger, CEO of Washington Mutual, took home more than $100 million during the seven years that he steered WaMu into the ground. Banks issued millions of predatory loans knowing that the borrowers would default and lose their homes. As a direct, foreseeable, proximate result, 15 million families are now in danger of foreclosure. If the legions of dispossessed homeowners cannot present their grievances in the courts of this great nation, their only recourse will be the streets.

Chase responded with yet another Motion to Dismiss, Carswell filed her Opposition to the motion, and a hearing is scheduled for January 6, 2011, 8:30 AM in Courtroom 10, US District Court, 312 N. Spring Street, Los Angeles, CA.


Khast v. Washington Mutual, JPMorgan Chase, and CRC, Case No. CV10-2168 IEG

Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge, U.S. District Court, Southern District of California
Kaveh Khast in pro se

A loan mod nightmare where Khast did everything right except laugh out loud when WaMu told him that he must stop making his mortgage payments for 90 days in order to qualify for a loan modification. As Khast leaped through the constantly shifting hoops tossed in the air, first by WaMu, then by Chase, filing no less than four applications, Chase issued a Notice of Trustee’s Sale.

Khast filed a pro se complaint in federal court. The District Court granted a Temporary Restraining Order to stop the sale. Hearing on a Preliminary Injunction is now scheduled for December 3. The court wrote that the conduct by WAMU appears to be “immoral, unethical, oppressive, unscrupulous or substantially injurious to consumers,” and thus satisfies the “unfair” prong of California’s Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus.&Prof.Code §17200. Plaintiff has stated that he possesses documents which support his contention that Defendant WAMU instructed Plaintiff to purposefully enter into default and assured Plaintiff that, if he did so, WAMU would restructure his loan. Accordingly, Plaintiff has demonstrated that he is likely to succeed on the merits of his claim.

The court also relied upon the doctrine of promissory estoppel. Under this doctrine a promisor is bound when he should reasonably expect a substantial change of position, either by act or forbearance, in reliance on his promise. He who by his language or conduct leads another to do what he would not otherwise have done shall not subject such person to loss or injury by disappointing the expectations upon which he acted.


Saxon Mortgage v. Hillery, Case No. C-08-4357

Edward M. Chen, U.S. Magistrate, Northern District of California
Thomas Spielbauer, attorney for Ruthie Hillery

Hillery obtained a home loan from New Century secured by a Deed of Trust, which named MERS as nominee for New Century and its successors. MERS later attempted to assign the Deed of Trust and the promissory note to Consumer. Consumer and the loan servicer then sued Hillery. The court ruled that Consumer must demonstrate that it is the holder of the deed of trust and the promissory note. In re Foreclosure Cases, 521 F. Supp. 2d 650, 653 (S.D. Oh. 2007) held that to show standing in a foreclosure action, the plaintiff must show that it is the holder of the note and the mortgage at the time the complaint was filed. For there to be a valid assignment, there must be more than just assignment of the deed alone; the note must also be assigned. “The note and mortgage are inseparable; the former as essential, the latter as an incident…an assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, while an assignment of the latter alone is a nullity.” Carpenter v. Longan, 83 U.S. 271, 274 (1872).

There was no evidence that MERS held the promissory note or was given the authority by New Century to assign the note to Consumer. Without the note, Consumer lacked standing. If Consumer did not have standing, then the loan servicer also lacked standing. A loan servicer cannot bring an action without the holder of the note. In re Hwang, 393 B.R. 701, 712 (2008).


Serrano v. GMAC Mortgage, Case No. 8:09-CV-00861-DOC

David O. Carter, Judge, U.S. District Court, Central District of California, Los Angeles
Moses S. Hall, attorney for Ignacio Serrano

Plaintiff alleged in state court that GMAC initiated a non-judicial foreclosure sale and sold his residence without complying with the notice requirements of Cal. Civil Code Sec. 2923.5 and 2924, and without attaching a declaration to the 2923.5 notice under penalty of perjury stating that defendants tried with due diligence to contact the borrower. Defendants removed the case to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The District Court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss without prejudice, and described in detail the defects in the Complaint with directions how to correct the defects. Plaintiff filed his Second Amended Complaint on 4/01/2010.


Sharma v. Provident Funding Associates, Case No. 3:2009-cv-05968

Vaughn R Walker, Judge, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California
Marc A. Fisher, attorney for Anilech and Parma Sharma

Defendants attempted to foreclose and plaintiffs sued in federal court, alleging that defendants did not contact them as required by Cal Civ Code § 2923.5. In considering plaintiffs’ request for an injunction to stop the foreclosure, the court found that plaintiffs had raised “serious questions going to the merits” and would suffer irreparable injury if the sale were to proceed. Property is considered unique. If defendants foreclosed, plaintiffs’ injury would be irreparable because they might be unable to reacquire it. Plaintiffs’ remedy at law, damages, would be inadequate. On the other hand, defendants would not suffer a high degree of harm if a preliminary injunction were ordered. While they would not be able to sell the property immediately and would incur litigation costs, when balanced against plaintiffs’ potential loss, defendants’ harm was outweighed.

The court issued a preliminary injunction enjoining defendants from selling the property while the lawsuit was pending.


Federal Bankruptcy Court

In re: Hwang, 396 B.R. 757 (2008), Case No. 08-15337 Chapter 7

Samuel L. Burford, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Los Angeles
Robert K. Lee, attorney for Kang Jin Hwang

As the servicer on Hwang’s promissory note, IndyMac was entitled to enforce the secured note under California law, but it must also satisfy the procedural requirements of federal law to obtain relief from the automatic stay in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy proceeding. These requirements include joining the owner of the note, because the owner of the note is the real party in interest under Rule 17, and it is also a required party under Rule 19. IndyMac failed to join the owner of the note, so its motion for relief from the automatic stay was denied.

Reversed on July 21, 2010. District Court Judge Philip Gutierrez reversed the Judge Burford’s determination that IndyMac is not the real party in interest under Rule 17 and that Rule 19 requires the owner of the Note to join the Motion.


In re: Vargas, Case No. 08-17036 Chapter 7

Samuel L. Burford, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, Los Angeles
Marcus Gomez, attorney for Raymond Vargas


In re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656 Chapter 11

Ronald H. Sargis, Judge, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Sacramento
Mitchell L. Abdallah, attorney for Rickie Walker

MERS assigned the Deed of Trust for Debtor’s property to Citibank, which filed a secured claim. Debtor objected to the claim. Judge Sargis ruled that the promissory note and the Deed of Trust are inseparable. An assignment of the note carries the mortgage with it, while an assignment of the Deed of Trust alone is a nullity. MERS was not the owner of the note, so it could not transfer the note or the beneficial interest in the Deed of Trust. The bankruptcy court disallowed Citibank’s claim because it could not establish that it was the owner of the promissory note.


California State Court

Cabalu v. Mission Bishop Real Estate

Superior Court of California, Alameda County
Brian A. Angelini, attorney for Cecil and Natividad Cabalu


Davies v. NDEX West, Case No. INC 090697

Randall White, Judge, Superior Court of California, Riverside County
Brian W. Davies, in pro per


Edstrom v. NDEX West, Wells Fargo Bank, et. al., Case No. 20100314

Superior Court of California, Eldorado County
Richard Hall, attorney for Daniel and Teri Anne Edstrom

A 61-page complaint with 29 causes of action to enjoin a trustee’s sale of plaintiffs’ residence, requesting a judicial sale instead of a non-judicial sale, declaratory relief, compensatory damages including emotional and mental distress, punitive damages, attorneys’ fees, and rescission.


Mabry v. Superior Court and Aurora Loan Services
185 Cal.App.4th 208, 110 Cal. Rptr. 3d 201 (4th Dist. June 2, 2010)
California Court of Appeal, 4th District, Division 3
California Supreme Court, Petition for Review filed July 13, 2010.

Moses S. Hall, attorney for Terry and Michael Mabry

The Mabrys sued to enjoin a trustee’s sale of their home, alleging that Aurora’s notice of default did not include a declaration required by Cal. Civil Code §2923.5, and that the bank did not explore alternatives to foreclosure with the borrowers. The trial court refused to stop the sale. The Mabrys filed a Petition for a Writ of Mandate and the Court of Appeal granted a stay to enjoin the sale. Oral argument was heard in Santa Ana on May 18, 2010.

Aurora argued that a borrower cannot sue a lender that fails to contact the borrower to discuss alternatives to foreclosure before filing a notice of default, as required by §2923.5, because §2923.5 does not explicitly give homeowners a “private right of action.” Aurora also argued that a declaration under penalty of perjury is not required because a trustee, who ordinarily files the notice of default, could not have personal knowledge of a bank’s attempts to contact the borrower. Nobody mentioned that the trustee is not authorized by the statute to make the declaration. §2923.5 states that a notice of default “shall include a declaration from the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent that it has contacted the borrower…”

The Court of Appeal ruled that a borrower has a private right of action under § 2923.5 and is not required to tender the full amount of the mortgage as a prerequisite to filing suit, since that would defeat the purpose of the statute. Under the court’s narrow construction of the statute, §2923.5 merely adds a procedural step in the foreclosure process. Since the statute is not substantive, it is not preempted by federal law. The declaration specified in §2923.5 does not have to be signed under penalty of perjury. The borrower’s remedy is limited to getting a postponement of a foreclosure while the lender files a new notice of default that complies with §2923.5. If the lender ignores the statute and makes no attempt to contact the borrower before selling the property, the violation does not cloud the title acquired by a third party purchaser at the foreclosure sale. Therefore §2923.5 claims must be raised in court before the sale. It is a question of fact for the trial court to determine whether the lender actually attempted to contact the borrower before filing a notice of default. If the lender takes the property at the foreclosure sale, its title is not clouded by its failure to comply with the statute. Finally, the case is not suitable for class action treatment if the lender asserts that it attempted to comply with the statute because each borrower will present “highly-individuated facts.”

In a petition for review to the California Supreme Court, the Mabrys noted that more than 100 federal district court opinions have considered §2923.5 and an overwhelming majority have rejected a private right of action under the statute. The petition for review was denied.

After the case was remanded to the trial court, Mabry’s motion for preliminary injunction was granted. The trial court found that the Notice of Default contained the form language required by the statute, i.e. that the lender contacted the borrower, tried with due diligence to contact the borrower, etc. However, the declaration on the Notice of Default was not made under panalty of perjury, and therefore had no evidentiary value to show whether the defendant satisfied §2923.5


Moreno v. Ameriquest

Superior Court of California, Contra Costa County
Thomas Spielbauer, attorney for Gloria and Carlos Moreno

Complaint for declaratory relief and fraud against lender for misrepresenting the terms of the loan, promising fixed rate with one small step after two years both orally and in the Truth In Lending Statement. Loan was actually variable rate with negative amortization. Morenos would have qualified for fixed rate 5% for 30 years, but instead received an exploding 7% ARM. Notary rushed plaintiffs through signing of documents with little explanation. Complaint requests a declaration the note is invalid, unconscionable and unenforceable and the Notice of Trustees Sale is invalid.


Other State Courts

JPMorgan Chase Bank v. George, Case No. 10865/06

Arthur M. Schack, Supreme Court Judge, Kings County, New York
Edward Roberts, attorney for Gertrude George


Florida Judge tosses foreclosure lawsuit

Homeowners dispute who owns mortgage

by Steve Patterson
St. Augustine Record
June 15, 2010

Changing stories about who owns a mortgage and seemingly fresh evidence from a long-closed bank led a judge to throw out a foreclosure lawsuit. It’s the second time in as many months that Circuit Judge J. Michael Traynor has dismissed with prejudice a foreclosure case where homeowners disputed who owns the mortgage. Lawyers representing New York-based M&T Bank gave three separate accounts of the ownership, with documentation that kept changing.

“The court has been misled by the plaintiff from the beginning,” the judge wrote in his order. He added that documents filed by M&T’s lawyers seemed to contradict each other and “have changed as needed to benefit the plaintiff.”

The latest account was that Wells Fargo owned the note, and M&T was a servicer, a company paid to handle payments and other responsibilities tied to a mortgage. To believe that, the judge wrote, the “plaintiff is asking the court to ignore the documents filed in the first two complaints.” He added that Wells Fargo can still sue on its own, if it has evidence that it owns the mortgage.

More and more foreclosure cases are being argued on shaky evidence, said James Kowalski, a Jacksonville attorney who represented homeowners Lisa and Larry Smith in the fight over their oceanfront home. “I think it’s very representative of what the banks and their lawyers are currently doing in court,” Kowalski said.

He said lawyers bringing the lawsuits are often pressed by their clients to close the cases quickly. But it’s up to lawyers to present solid evidence and arguments. “We are supposed to be better than that,” Kowalski said. “We are supposed to be officers of the court.”



Department of Treasury and FDIC Report on WaMu, 4/16/2010

The Offices of Inspector General for Department of the Treasury and Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation released its evaluation of the regulatory oversight of Washington Mutual on April 16. The table of contents tells the story. WaMu pursued a high-risk lending strategy which included systematic underwriting weaknesses. They didn’t care if borrowers could pay back their loans. WaMu did not have adequate controls in place to manage its reckless “high-risk” strategy. OTS examiners found weaknesses in WaMu’s strategy, operations, and asset portfolio but looked the other way.


OCC Advisory Letters

How could the regulators allow this breakdown to happen? Was it really fraud when banks arranged loans for homeowners who would inevitably go into defrault, sold them to Wall Street to be bundled into securities, then purchased insurance so that the bank would collect the unpaid balances when the borrowers lost their homes? Did anybody really know that repealing Glass-Steagall and permitting Wall Street banks to get under the covers with Main Street banks would cause so many borrowers to lose their homes? The Glass-Steagall Act, enacted in 1933, barred any institution from acting as any combination of an investment bank, a commercial bank, and an insurance company. It was repealed in 1999, and the repercussions have been immense.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued Advisory Letter 2000-7 only months after Glass-Steagall was repealed. It warned regulators to be on the lookout for indications of predatory or abusive lending practices, including Collateral or Equity Stripping – loans made in reliance on the liquidation value of the borrower’s home or other collateral, rather than the borrower’s independent ability to repay, with the possible or intended result of foreclosure or the need to refinance under duress.

Proving fraud is a painstaking process. Getting inside the mind of a crook requires a careful foundation, and admissable evidence is not always easy to obtain. Many courts will take judicial notice of official acts of the legislative, executive, and judicial departments of the United States and of any state of the United States. See Cal Evidence Code Sec. 452(c).

Here is a set of smoking guns in the form of a series of Advisory Letters issued by OCC:

The Washington Mutual logo prior to its acquis...
The Washington Mutual logo prior to its acquisition by JPMorgan Chase. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bankruptcy Laws, You Have Seen Nothing Yet! Mortgage Chaos?

by Bankruptcy Law Network

There are many bright Real Estate Attorneys out there. Likewise, there are many bright Bankruptcy Attorneys out there. But I don’t think there are that many bright Bankruptcy Real Estate Attorneys out there. And the few that do exist…..well, I don’t think they worked for the Mortgage Companies. Why? Well if they did, the transfer of loans would not have existed the way that it did for the past several years.

Lately, the big news in foreclosures has been the Ohio cases where Judge Boyko dismissed 14 foreclosures on October 31, 2007, and his Colleague, Judge Kathleen O’Malley of the same court, followed suite ordering another 32 dismissals on November 14, 2007.   But that’s only the beginning. It gets worse.

Add a bankruptcy filing to the mix and it’s like adding gas to the fire and recipe for disaster. The reason is a little bankruptcy code section called 11 USC 544. Basically, that section allows a Trustee appointed by the Bankruptcy Court to avoid non-perfected liens.Non-perfected liens are liens that exist, but are not fully noticed to everyone, sort of like secret liens. It’s like if someone loans you $50,000 and takes a lien out on your house, but never records their lien with the county recorder. If that house sells, the lien is not paid since escrow was not aware of it. Had it been recorded by a “deed of trust” or “mortgage,” the Title Company and Escrow Company would not have closed once they saw it, unless it was paid.

Because of all the crazy real estate financing, securitization, and reselling of all the mortgages, sort of the same thing has happened with all the mortgages and trust deeds, but on a much larger scale. Normally, most states require that when a mortgage or real estate loan is sold or transferred to another lender, certain things must happen to maintain perfection, that is, in order to make sure that lien gets paid at a later date. Generally, the purchaser of the Mortgage has it recorded at the County Recorders Office. This is usually done thru a recorded assignment of the underlying note and mortgage or a new Mortgage being recorded and transfer of the Note.  The Note is the most important part of any Mortgage or Deed of Trust. The Mortgage or Deed of Trust is useless without the Note, and usually can not exist without it. It’s a negotiable instrument, just like a check. So when it’s transferred, it needs to be endorsed, just like a check. So essentially, all real estate has documents recorded to evidence the lien, and which are linked to the “checks.”  Well, this is where the problem lies.

In most of the Mortgage Transfers which took place recently, the Mortgage or Deed of Trust was transferred, but not the Note. Whoops! Why? It was just too expensive to track down every note for every mortgage since they were all bundled up together and sold in large trusts, then resold, resold, etc. Imagine trying to find 1 note among thousands, which were sold in different trust pools over time. Pretty hard to do! So shortcuts happened.  Soon enough, shortcuts were accepted and since there were very little foreclosure activity during the last 7 year real estate bubble, no one really noticed in the few foreclosures that took place. Until recently. That’s where the Ohio cases come in. Times have now changed. That little shortcut stopped the foreclosures in Ohio since the most basic element of any lawsuit is that the party bringing the lawsuit is the “real party in interest.” That is, they are the aggrieved party, injured party, relief seeking party.  So in Ohio, the Judge dismissed all the cases since they did not possess the Notes or Assignments on the date of filing, and technically were not the real party in interest to file the suit at the time.But that maybe only a temporary problem until they find the note or assignment. At that point, they will probably just file the foreclosure lawsuit again. So it’s just a delay.

But the bigger problem exists in Bankruptcy.  You see, once a Bankruptcy Case is filed, the Automatic Stay goes into effect. Everything is frozen. Mistakes can no longer be corrected. And if the lender did not have the note or recorded assignment when the bankruptcy case was filed, it was an “unperfected lien” at the time of filing.  Unperfected liens get removed in Bankruptcy.  So finding the note or recording an assignment after filing will no longer fix the problem! Finding the note or or recording an assignment is now simply too late and futile.  That $12 shortcut may now have cost the lender a $500,000 mortgage!The Bankruptcy Trustee now is in charge, puts his 11 USC 544 hat on, and voila, removes the mortgage! Yes, that house that once had no equity worth $450,000 with $500,000 owed on it, is now FREE AND CLEAR! He sells it, and disburses all the proceeds to the creditors.

California’s antideficiency rules latest holding


Bank of America v Mitchell (2012)

The Editor’s Take: Watching our courts attempt to steer California’s antideficiency rules through the treacherous currents of multiple security contexts is always somewhat painful. Code of Civil Procedure §580d, enacted in 1939, prohibits recovery of a deficiency judgment after a nonjudicial sale, which seems straightforward enough at the start. But 24 years later, the California Supreme Court held that this prohibition did not apply to a creditor suing on its junior note after having been sold out in a senior foreclosure sale (the “sold-out junior exception”). Roseleaf Corp. v Chierighino (1963) 59 C2d 35, 41, 27 CR 873. But then, 30 years after that, a court of appeal held that this sold-out junior exception did not apply to a creditor who held both the senior and junior notes. Simon v Superior Court (1992) 4 CA4th 63, 71, 5 CR2d 428. So from then on, we had a “being your own junior” exception to the “sold-out junior” exception.

A decade after that came two more exceptions to the exception to the exception: The court in Ostayan v Serrano Reconveyance Co. (2000) 77 CA4th 1411, 1422, 92 CR2d 577, , allowed a two-note-holding creditor to foreclose on its junior deed of trust and sell the property subject to its own senior encumbrance (although that is not a §580d issue). More importantly, National Enters., Inc. v Woods (2001) 94 CA4th 1217, 115 CR2d 37, allowed the holder of two notes to judicially foreclose on the first one and to sell the second note to a third party, who then was held able to sue on it as a sold-out junior. This was technically not a §580d issue, since the senior foreclosure was not by power of sale, but the reasoning made it look like we were going to have a “third party transferee” or “unbundling the package” exception to the “being your own junior” exception of Simon. It began to look like Simon would be eaten away with exceptions, especially when the original lender made a timely divestment of one of its notes.

But instead, we now learn from Mitchell that the Simon doctrine will be applied against a third party transferee who took the junior paper from the common lender after that lender had trustee sold the property under its senior deed of trust. Both National Enters. and Mitchell involved a transfer of the junior loan after a sale under the senior security, differing only with regard to whether the senior foreclosure was judicial or nonjudicial, which distinction should perhaps matter more to the selling senior than to the nonselling junior.

So many factors potentially affect the outcomes in these situations that it is really impossible to make any confident predictions. How much does it matter whether the two loans were made at the same or different times? Whether they were for related or entirely different purposes? Whether one of them was transferred (and before or after the other was foreclosed)? Whether the transferred loan was the senior or junior? Whether the one foreclosed was the senior or junior? Whether the foreclosure was judicial or nonjudicial? I can point out these distinctions, but that doesn’t mean I can forecast their effect on the outcome of the next case that comes up. —Roger Bernhardt


204 Cal.App.4th 1199 (2012)

139 Cal. Rptr. 3d 562

BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Plaintiff and Appellant,
MICHAEL MITCHELL, Defendant and Respondent.

No. B233924.

Court of Appeals of California, Second District, Division Four.

April 10, 2012.

1202*1202 The Dreyfuss Firm and Bruce Dannemeyer for Plaintiff and Appellant.

Law Offices of Ulric E. J. Usher, Ulric E. J. Usher and Richard Kavonian for Defendant and Respondent.



Appellant Bank of America’s (Bank) predecessor in interest loaned respondent Michael Mitchell (Mitchell) $315,000 to purchase a home, secured by two notes and first and second deeds of trust. When Mitchell defaulted on the loan, the lender foreclosed and sold the property. The lender then assigned the second deed of trust to the Bank, which initiated the present action to recover the indebtedness evidenced by the note. Mitchell demurred, and the court sustained the demurrer without leave to amend, concluding that the Bank’s action was barred by California’s antideficiency law. The Bank appeals from the judgment of dismissal and from the subsequent award of prevailing party attorney fees to Mitchell. We affirm.


The Bank filed the present action on September 16, 2010, and it filed the operative first amended complaint (complaint), asserting causes of action for 1203*1203 breach of contract, open book account, and money lent, on December 2, 2010. The complaint alleges that Mitchell obtained a loan from GreenPoint Mortgage Funding, Inc. (GreenPoint), on or about September 14, 2006. The loan was evidenced by a note secured by a deed of trust recorded against real property located at 45245 Kingtree Avenue, Lancaster, California (the property). The security for the loan was eliminated by a senior foreclosure sale in 2009. Because Mitchell defaulted on payments owing on the loan, the complaint alleged that he breached the terms of the contract, resulting in damage to the Bank in the principal sum of $63,000, plus interest at the note rate of 11.625 percent from March 1, 2010, through the date of judgment.

Mitchell demurred. Concurrently with his demurrer, he sought judicial notice of several documents, including two deeds of trust, a notice of trustee’s sale, and a trustee’s deed upon sale. On the basis of these documents, he contended that on September 14, 2006, GreenPoint made him two loans to purchase the property, with a note and deed of trust for each loan recorded against the property. The first note and deed of trust were for $252,000, and the second note and deed of trust were for $63,000. Both deeds of trust were recorded on September 21, 2006. Mitchell defaulted on the notes sometime in 2008. A notice of default was recorded, and the property was sold at trustee sale for $53,955.01 on November 6, 2009. More than a year later, on November 18, 2010, GreenPoint assigned the second deed of trust to Bank of America, which subsequently filed the present action to recover on the second note and deed of trust. Mitchell contended that the action was barred by California’s antideficiency legislation, which bars a deficiency judgment following nonjudicial foreclosure of real property.

The trial court granted Mitchell’s request for judicial notice and sustained the demurrer without leave to amend on January 27, 2011, concluding that the Bank’s breach of contract and common counts claims seek recovery of the balance owed on the obligation secured by the second deed of trust and, thus, are barred by the antideficiency statutes as a matter of law. On April 7, 2011, the court awarded Mitchell prevailing party attorney fees of $8,400 and costs of $534.72.

Judgment for Mitchell was entered on July 8, 2011. The Bank appealed from the award of attorney fees on June 17, 2011, and from the judgment on August 8, 2011. We ordered the two appeals consolidated on October 13, 2011.


“A demurrer tests the legal sufficiency of the factual allegations in a complaint. We independently review the sustaining of a demurrer and determine de novo whether the complaint alleges facts sufficient to state a cause of 1204*1204 action or discloses a complete defense. (McCall v. PacifiCare of Cal., Inc. (2001) 25 Cal.4th 412, 415 [106 Cal.Rptr.2d 271, 21 P.3d 1189]Cryolife, Inc. v. Superior Court (2003) 110 Cal.App.4th 1145, 1152 [2 Cal.Rptr.3d 396].) We assume the truth of the properly pleaded factual allegations, facts that reasonably can be inferred from those expressly pleaded, and matters of which judicial notice has been taken. (Schifando v. City of Los Angeles (2003) 31 Cal.4th 1074, 1081 [6 Cal.Rptr.3d 457, 79 P.3d 569].) We construe the pleading in a reasonable manner and read the allegations in context. (Ibid.)” (City of Industry v. City of Fillmore (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 191, 205 [129 Cal.Rptr.3d 433].)

“If we determine the facts as pleaded do not state a cause of action, we then consider whether the court abused its discretion in denying leave to amend the complaint. (McClain v. Octagon Plaza, LLC [(2008)] 159 Cal.App.4th [784,] 791-792 [71 Cal.Rptr.3d 885].) It is an abuse of discretion for the trial court to sustain a demurrer without leave to amend if the plaintiff demonstrates a reasonable possibility that the defect can be cured by amendment. (Schifando v. City of Los Angeles[,supra,] 31 Cal.4th [at p.] 1081. . . .)” (Estate of Dito (2011) 198 Cal.App.4th 791, 800-801 [130 Cal.Rptr.3d 279].)

Attorney fee awards normally are reviewed for abuse of discretion. In the present case, however, the Bank contends that the trial court lacked the authority as a matter of law to award attorney fees in any amount. Accordingly, our review is de novo. (Connerly v. Sate Personnel Bd. (2006) 37 Cal.4th 1169, 1175 [39 Cal.Rptr.3d 788, 129 P.3d 1].)


I. The Trial Court Properly Sustained the Demurrer Without Leave to Amend

A. Code of Civil Procedure Section 580d

(1) “`In California, as in most states, a creditor’s right to enforce a debt secured by a mortgage or deed of trust on real property is restricted by statute. Under California law, “the creditor must rely upon his security before enforcing the debt. (Code Civ. Proc., §§ 580a, 725a, 726.) If the security is insufficient, his right to a judgment against the debtor for the deficiency may be limited or barred . . . .” [Citation.]’ [Citation.]” (In re Marriage of Oropallo (1998) 68 Cal.App.4th 997, 1003 [80 Cal.Rptr.2d 669].)

Code of Civil Procedure section 580d (section 580d) prohibits a creditor from seeking a judgment for a deficiency on all notes “secured by a deed of 1205*1205 trust or mortgage upon real property . . . in any case in which the real property . . . has been sold by the mortgagee or trustee under power of sale contained in the mortgage or deed of trust.”[1] The effect of section 580d is that “`the beneficiary of a deed of trust executed after 1939 cannot hold the debtor for a deficiency unless he uses the remedy of judicial foreclosure. . . .'” (Simon v. Superior Court (1992) 4 Cal.App.4th 63, 71 [5 Cal.Rptr.2d 428] (Simon).)

(2) In Roseleaf Corp. v. Chierighino (1963) 59 Cal.2d 35 [27 Cal.Rptr. 873, 378 P.2d 97] (Roseleaf), the California Supreme Court held that where two deeds of trust are held against a single property and the senior creditor nonjudicially forecloses on the property, section 580d does not prohibit the holder of the junior lienor “whose security has been rendered valueless by a senior sale” from recovering a deficiency judgment. (59 Cal.2d at p. 39.) There, defendant Chierighino purchased a hotel from plaintiff Roseleaf Corporation. The consideration for the hotel included three notes, each secured by a second trust deed on parcels owned by Chierighino. After the sale of the hotel, the third parties who held the first trust deeds on the three parcels nonjudicially foreclosed on them, rendering Roseleaf’s second trust deeds valueless. Roseleaf then brought an action to recover the full amount unpaid on the three notes secured by the second trust deeds. (Id. at p. 38.)

The trial court entered judgment for Roseleaf. Chierighino appealed, contending that Roseleaf’s action was barred by section 580d, but the Supreme Court disagreed and affirmed. It explained that the purpose of section 580d was to “put judicial enforcement [of powers of sale] on a parity with private enforcement.” (Roseleaf, supra, 59 Cal.2d at p. 43.) That purpose, the court said, would not be served by applying section 580d against a nonselling junior lienor: “Even without the section the junior has fewer rights after a senior private sale than after a senior judicial sale. He may redeem from a senior judicial sale (Code Civ. Proc., § 701), or he may obtain a deficiency judgment. [Citations.] After a senior private sale, the junior has no right to redeem. This disparity of rights would be aggravated were he also denied a right to a deficiency judgment by section 580d. There is no purpose in denying the junior his single remedy after a senior private sale while leaving 1206*1206 him with two alternative remedies after a senior judicial sale. The junior’s right to recover should not be controlled by the whim of the senior, and there is no reason to extend the language of section 580d to reach that result.” (59 Cal.2d at p. 44.)

In Simon, supra, 4 Cal.App.4th 63, the court held that the rule articulated in Roseleafdid not apply to protect a junior lienor who also held the senior lien. There, Bank of America (Lender) lent the Simons $1,575,000, for which the Simons gave it two separate promissory notes. Each note was secured by a separate deed of trust naming the Bank as beneficiary and describing the same real property (the property). Subsequently, the Simons defaulted on the senior note and the Lender foreclosed. The Lender purchased the property at the nonjudicial foreclosure sale and then filed an action to recover the unpaid balance of the junior note. (Id. at p. 66.)

(3) After detailing the history of the antideficiency legislation and the governing case law, the court held that section 580d barred the Lender’s deficiency causes of action. It noted that in Roseleaf, the Supreme Court explained that the purpose of section 580d was to create parity between judicial and nonjudicial enforcement. Such parity would not be served “if [the Lender] here is permitted to make successive loans secured by a senior and junior deed of trust on the same property; utilize its power of sale to foreclose the senior lien, thereby eliminating the Simons’ right to redeem; and having so terminated that right of redemption, obtain a deficiency judgment against the Simons on the junior obligation whose security [the Lender], thus, made the choice to eliminate.” (Simon, supra, 4 Cal.App.4th at p. 77.) The court continued: “Unlike a true third party sold-out junior, [the Lender’s] right to recover as a junior lienor which is also the purchasing senior lienor is obviously not controlled by the `whim of the senior.’ We will not sanction the creation of multiple trust deeds on the same property, securing loans represented by successive promissory notes from the same debtor, as a means of circumventing the provisions of section 580d. [Fn. omitted.] The elevation of the form of such a contrived procedure over its easily perceived substance would deal a mortal blow to the antideficiency legislation of this state. Assuming, arguendo, legitimate reasons do exist to divide a loan to a debtor into multiple notes thus secured, section 580d must nonetheless be viewed as controlling where, as here, the senior and junior lenders and lienors are identical and those liens are placed on the same real property. Otherwise, creditors would be free to structure their loans to a single debtor, and the security therefor, so as to obtain on default the secured property on a trustee’s sale under a senior deed of trust; thereby eliminate the debtor’s right of redemption thereto; and thereafter effect an excessive recovery by obtaining a deficiency judgment against that debtor on an obligation secured by a junior lien the creditor chose to eliminate.” (Id. at pp. 77-78.)

1207*1207 B. Simon and Roseleaf Bar a Deficiency Judgment in the Present Case

(4) Simon is dispositive of the present case. Here, Mitchell executed two promissory notes, for $252,000 and $63,000, secured by the first and second deeds of trust in the property. As in Simon, the first and second deeds of trust were held by a single lender, GreenPoint. GreenPoint, as beneficiary under the first deed of trust, chose to exercise its power of sale by holding a nonjudicial foreclosure sale. GreenPoint thus was not a “sold-out junior” lienor and would not have been permitted to obtain a deficiency judgment against Mitchell under the rule articulated in Simon. The result is no different because GreenPoint, after the trustee sale, assigned the second deed of trust to the Bank. “An assignment transfers the interest of the assignor to the assignee. Thereafter, `”[t]he assignee `stands in the shoes’ of the assignor, taking his rights and remedies, subject to any defenses which the obligor has against the assignor prior to notice of the assignment.”‘ [Citation.]” (Manson, Iver & York v. Black (2009) 176 Cal.App.4th 36, 49 [97 Cal.Rptr.3d 522].) Accordingly, because GreenPoint could not have obtained a deficiency judgment against Mitchell, the Bank also is precluded from doing so.

The Bank urges that Simon is distinguishable because in that case, the lender ultimately purchased the property for a credit bid at its own foreclosure sale, whereas in this case, the property was sold to a third party. The Bank thus contends that “[u]nder Simon if (a) both loans are held by the same lender and (b) that lender acquires the property at the foreclosure sale, the risk of manipulation by the lender is too great, so no deficiency is allowed. But if either is missing, the risk of manipulation is reduced, and a deficiency should be allowed.” Like the trial court, we reject the contention that the lender must have acquired the property at the foreclosure sale forSimon to apply. Although Simon noted the lender’s purchase at the foreclosure sale, that purchase was not material to its holding. Instead, the court’s focus was on the lender’s dual position as holder of the first and second deeds of trust, and its consequent ability to protect its own interest. (Simon, supra, 4 Cal.App.4th at p. 72 [“[The Lender] was not a third party sold-out junior lienholder as was the case inRoseleaf. As the holder of both the first and second liens, [the Lender] was fully able to protect its secured position. It was not required to protect its junior lien from its own foreclosure of the senior lien by the investment of additional funds. Its position of dual lienholder eliminated any possibility that [the Lender], after foreclosure and sale of the liened property under its first lien, might end up with no interest in the secured property, the principal rationale of the court’s decision in Roseleaf.“].)

The Bank further contends that the present case is distinguishable from Simonbecause the presence of a third party purchaser at the foreclosure sale 1208*1208prevented the kind of “manipulation” possible in Simon. According to the Bank, “[w]hen the foreclosure sale results in acquisition by a third party, who competed with the foreclosing lender and all other bidders at the public auction, a low-ball bid is impossible. If the foreclosing lender bids below market, it will be outbid; it will not acquire the property. The lender cannot manipulate the price. The presence of third party bids demonstrates the market is at work to achieve a fair price. Third party bids provide the functional equivalent of a right of redemption. By outbidding the lender, the third party prevents the lender from manipulating the process.” We disagree. Whatever the merits of the Bank’s argument as a matter of policy, it has no support in the statute, and the Bank suggests none. Indeed, nothing in the antideficiency legislation suggests that the presence of a third party bidder at a foreclosure sale excepts the sale from the legislation and permits the lender to seek a deficiency judgment.[2]

For all the foregoing reasons, section 580d bars the deficiency judgment the Bank seeks in the present case and, thus, the trial court properly sustained the demurrer. Because the Bank suggests no way in which the legal defects identified could be cured by amendment, the demurrer was properly sustained without leave to amend.

II. The Trial Court Properly Awarded Mitchell Attorney Fees

A. Relevant Facts

Following the trial court’s order sustaining Mitchell’s demurrer without leave to amend, Mitchell filed a motion for attorney fees pursuant to Civil Code section 1717. Two days later, on February 10, 2011, the Bank filed a request for dismissal with prejudice. It then filed opposition to the motion for attorney fees, contending that there could be no prevailing party within the meaning of Civil Code section 1717 because it had voluntarily dismissed its action.[3]

On March 8, 2011, the trial court vacated the dismissal and granted Mitchell’s motion for attorney fees. It explained that because it had sustained a demurrer to the Bank’s complaint without leave to amend, the Bank did not have a right pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 581 to voluntarily dismiss the action, and the dismissal had been entered in error. It awarded Mitchell attorney fees of $8,400 and costs of $534.72.

1209*1209 B. Analysis

The Bank contends that the trial court lacked authority to award Mitchell attorney fees. It urges that under Code of Civil Procedure section 581, it had an absolute right to dismiss its case voluntarily, so long as it did so with prejudice. Because it did so, there was no prevailing party pursuant to Civil Code section 1717, subdivision (b)(2), and thus the trial court lacked authority to award Mitchell contractual attorney fees.

(5) The Bank is correct that under Civil Code section 1717, a defendant in a contract action is not deemed a prevailing party where the plaintiff voluntarily dismisses the action. (Id., subd. (b)(2) [“Where an action has been voluntarily dismissed or dismissed pursuant to a settlement of the case, there shall be no prevailing party for purposes of this section.”].) Therefore, if the Bank’s dismissal was valid, the Bank is correct that the trial court erred in awarding attorney fees. The trial court determined, however, that the Bank’s dismissal was not valid, the issue to which we now turn.

(6) Pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure section 581, a plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss an action, “with or without prejudice,” at any time before the “actual commencement of trial.” (§ 581, subds. (b)(1), (c).) Further, a plaintiff may voluntarily dismiss an action with prejudice “at any time before the submission of the cause.” (Estate of Somers (1947) 82 Cal.App.2d 757, 759 [187 P.2d 433].) Upon the proper exercise of the right of voluntary dismissal, a trial court “`would thereafter lack jurisdiction to enter further orders in the dismissed action.’ (Wells v. Marina City Properties, Inc. (1981) 29 Cal.3d 781, 784 [176 Cal.Rptr. 104, 632 P.2d 217].) `Alternatively stated, voluntary dismissal of an entire action deprives the court of both subject matter and personal jurisdiction in that case, except for the limited purpose of awarding costs and . . . attorney fees. [Citations.]’ (Gogri v. Jack in the Box, Inc.(2008) 166 Cal.App.4th 255, 261 [82 Cal.Rptr.3d 629].)” (Lewis C. Nelson & Sons, Inc. v. Lynx Iron Corp. (2009) 174 Cal.App.4th 67, 76 [94 Cal.Rptr.3d 468].)

A plaintiff’s right to voluntarily dismiss an action before commencement of trial is not absolute, however. (Lewis C. Nelson & Sons, Inc. v. Lynx Iron Corp., supra, 174 Cal.App.4th at pp. 76-77Zapanta v. Universal Care, Inc. (2003) 107 Cal.App.4th 1167, 1171 [132 Cal.Rptr.2d 842].) “Code of Civil Procedure section 581 recognizes exceptions to the right; other limitations have evolved through the courts’ construction of the term `commencement of trial.’ These exceptions generally arise where the action has proceeded to a determinative adjudication, or to a decision that is tantamount to an adjudication.” (Harris v. Billings (1993) 16 Cal.App.4th 1396, 1402 [20 Cal.Rptr.2d 718].)

1210*1210 (7) The Supreme Court found such a “determinative adjudication” in Goldtree v. Spreckels (1902) 135 Cal. 666 [67 P. 1091] (Goldtree). There, the defendant’s demurrer to each of the plaintiff’s causes of action was sustained without leave to amend as to the first two. The plaintiff then filed a written request to dismiss the entire case, and the court clerk entered an order of dismissal. The trial court vacated the dismissal, and the plaintiff appealed. (Id. at pp. 667-668.) The Supreme Court affirmed: “In our opinion the subdivision of the section 581 of the Code of Civil Procedure in question cannot be restricted in its meaning to trials of the merits after answer, for there may be such a trial on a general demurrer to the complaint as will effectually dispose of the case where the plaintiff has properly alleged all the facts which constitute his cause of action. If the demurrer is sustained, he stands on his pleading and submits to judgment on the demurrer, and, if not satisfied, has his remedy by appeal. In such a case, we think, there would be a trial within the meaning of the code, and the judgment would cut off the right of dismissal, unless it was first set aside or leave given to amend. [¶] The clerk had no authority, therefore, to enter the dismissal, and being void the court rightly set it aside.” (Id. at pp. 672-673.)

(8) The Supreme Court reached a similar result in Wells v. Marina City Properties, Inc., supra, 29 Cal.3d 781 (Wells). There, the trial court sustained the defendant’s demurrer with leave to amend. The plaintiff failed to amend within the time provided, but instead sought to voluntarily dismiss the action without prejudice. The Supreme Court held that the voluntary dismissal was improperly entered: “[O]nce a general demurrer is sustained with leave to amend and plaintiff does not so amend within the time authorized by the court or otherwise extended by stipulation or appropriate order, he can no longer voluntarily dismiss his action pursuant to section 581, subdivision 1, even if the trial court has yet to enter a judgment of dismissal on the sustained demurrer.” (Id. at p. 789.)

In the present case, the trial court sustained defendant’s demurrer without leave to amend on January 27, 2011. Although the trial court had not yet entered a judgment of dismissal when the Bank filed a request for voluntary dismissal on February 10, 2011, as in Goldtree and Wells, the trial court had already made a determinative adjudication on the legal merits of the Bank’s claim. Accordingly, as in those cases, the Bank no longer had the right to voluntarily dismiss under Code of Civil Procedure section 581.

The Bank contends that the present case is distinguishable from Goldtree and Wellsbecause here it sought to dismiss with prejudice, while in those cases the attempted dismissal was without prejudice. We do not agree. The 1211*1211 court rejected a similar contention in Vanderkous v. Conley (2010) 188 Cal.App.4th 111 [115 Cal.Rptr.3d 249] (Vanderkous). There, the plaintiff and the defendant formerly had lived together on a multilot parcel owned by the plaintiff. An arbitration award entered after their relationship ended directed the parties to cooperate in a lot line adjustment that would result in the home and a garage on a single lot to be owned by the defendant, with the remainder of the parcel to be owned by the plaintiff. The plaintiff was also to have access and utility easements over the garage area for the benefit of his parcel. The easements were executed by the defendant and recorded, but the garage and surrounding property were never transferred because the plaintiff never recorded either the lot line adjustment or the grant deed to the defendant for the garage and setback area. When the plaintiff subsequently sought to record a subdivision map, the title company that was to record the map refused to do so because the grants of easement by the defendant created a cloud on the plaintiff’s title. The plaintiff thus filed a complaint for declaratory relief and to quiet title. (Id. at pp. 114-115.)

Following a trial, the court filed a statement of decision that ordered the defendant to execute a quitclaim deed in favor of the plaintiff, and ordered the plaintiff to compensate the defendant in an amount equal to the full market value of the garage area. If the parties could not agree on the amount the plaintiff was to pay the defendant, each party was ordered to submit an appraisal for the court’s final determination. The defendant submitted an appraisal that valued the garage area at $410,000, and the plaintiff submitted an appraisal that valued the property at $75,000, but also requested a continuance and an evidentiary hearing on the value of the property. The day before the evidentiary hearing, the plaintiff filed a request for dismissal with prejudice with the clerk. The trial court ruled that the plaintiff’s attempt to dismiss was void ab initio and ordered the plaintiff to pay the defendant $199,246 plus attorney fees and costs. (Vanderkous, supra, 188 Cal.App.4th at p. 116.)

(9) The plaintiff appealed, contending that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to set aside his voluntary dismissal of his action and to award attorney fees. (Vanderkous, supra, 188 Cal.App.4th at p. 117.) The court disagreed and affirmed the judgment. It explained: “Section 581, subdivision (d) provides that a complaint may be dismissed with prejudice when the plaintiff abandons it before the final submission of the case.Here, the court’s statement of decision following the three-day court trial, states `[t]he matter was deemed submitted on March 10, 2008, following receipt of closing briefs from both sides.’ The statement of decision resolved Vanderkous’s quiet title cause of action and his claim for declaratory relief, and ordered him to compensate Conley for the fair market value of property she was required to quitclaim to 1212*1212 him. [¶] … [¶] Because Vanderkous has not convinced us that he had an absolute right to dismiss his complaint, we also reject his argument that the trial court lacked jurisdiction to set aside his attempted dismissal. [Citations.] A contrary rule would enable Vanderkous to avoid compliance with the court’s decision and would undermine the trial court’s authority to provide for the orderly conduct of proceedings before it and compel obedience to its judgments, orders, and process. (See § 128, subd. (a).)” (Vanderkous, supra, at pp. 117-118; see also Weil & Brown, Cal. Practice Guide: Civil Procedure Before Trial (The Rutter Group 2011) ¶ 11:28, p. 11-16 (rev. # 1, 2011) [“[O]nce the case is finally submitted for decision, there is no further right to dismiss with prejudice. At that point, plaintiffs cannot avoid an adverse ruling by abandoning the case.”].)

The present case is analogous. As in Vanderkous, the Bank sought to dismiss afterthe court made a dispositive ruling against it, not before. To allow the Bank to dismiss at that late stage would permit procedural gamesmanship inconsistent with the trial court’s authority to provide for the orderly conduct of proceedings before it.

We do not agree with the Bank that its right to dismiss is supported by this division’s decision in Marina Glencoe, L.P. v. Neue Sentimental Film AG (2008) 168 Cal.App.4th 874 [85 Cal.Rptr.3d 800] (Marina Glencoe). There, after the plaintiff presented its evidence on the single bifurcated issue of alter ego liability, the defendant moved for judgment. The court heard argument on the motion but did not rule; the following day, before a ruling on the pending motion, the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed the action with prejudice. The defendant moved for prevailing party attorney fees, and the court denied the motion, concluding that the defendant was not entitled to such fees under Civil Code section 1717. The defendant appealed. We affirmed, noting that because the plaintiff voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, “[i]ts intent was to end the litigation, not to manipulate the judicial process to avoid its inevitable end. This was entirely proper.” (168 Cal.App.4th at p. 878.)

The present case is distinguishable from Marina Glencoe. In Marina Glencoe, the plaintiff dismissed its action before the trial court ruled on a dispositive motion, and thus judgment in the defendant’s favor was not inevitable. In the present case, in contrast, the trial court had already sustained Mitchell’s demurrer without leave to amend, and thus judgment against the Bank had already “ripened to the point of inevitability.” (Marina Glencoe, supra, 168 Cal.App.4th at p. 878.) Accordingly, unlike in Marina Glencoe, the Bank no longer had the right to voluntarily dismiss its action, either with or without prejudice.


We affirm the judgment of dismissal and award of attorney fees. Mitchell shall recover his appellate costs.

Willhite, Acting P. J., and Manella, J., concurred.

[1] The full text of section 580d is as follows: “No judgment shall be rendered for any deficiency upon a note secured by a deed of trust or mortgage upon real property or an estate for years therein hereafter executed in any case in which the real property or estate for years therein has been sold by the mortgagee or trustee under power of sale contained in the mortgage or deed of trust.

“This section does not apply to any deed of trust, mortgage or other lien given to secure the payment of bonds or other evidences of indebtedness authorized or permitted to be issued by the Commissioner of Corporations, or which is made by a public utility subject to the Public Utilities Act (Part 1 (commencing with Section 201) of Division 1 of the Public Utilities Code).”

[2] Although not relevant to our analysis, we note that the property’s foreclosure sale purchase price of $53,955.01 does not convincingly demonstrate, as the Bank asserts, that the presence of a third party bidder made a “low-ball bid . . . impossible.”

[3] In its opposition, the Bank represented to the court as follows: “The litigation is over. There will be no appeal.”



Audit Uncovers Extensive Flaws in Foreclosures

Published: February 15, 2012

An audit by San Francisco county officials of about 400 recent foreclosures there determined that almost all involved either legal violations or suspicious documentation, according to a report released Wednesday.

Annie Tritt for The New York Times

Phil Ting, the San Francisco assessor-recorder, found widespread violations or irregularities in files of properties subject to foreclosure sales.

Readers’ Comments

Readers shared their thoughts on this article.

Anecdotal evidence indicating foreclosure abuse has been plentiful since the mortgage boom turned to bust in 2008. But the detailed and comprehensive nature of the San Francisco findings suggest how pervasive foreclosure irregularities may be across the nation.

The improprieties range from the basic — a failure to warn borrowers that they were in default on their loans as required by law — to the arcane. For example, transfers of many loans in the foreclosure files were made by entities that had no right to assign them and institutions took back properties in auctions even though they had not proved ownership.

Commissioned by Phil Ting, the San Francisco assessor-recorder, the report examined files of properties subject to foreclosure sales in the county from January 2009 to November 2011. About 84 percent of the files contained what appear to be clear violations of law, it said, and fully two-thirds had at least four violations or irregularities.

Kathleen Engel, a professor at Suffolk University Law School in Boston said: “If there were any lingering doubts about whether the problems with loan documents in foreclosures were isolated, this study puts the question to rest.”

The report comes just days after the $26 billion settlement over foreclosure improprieties between five major banks and 49 state attorneys general, including California’s. Among other things, that settlement requires participating banks to reduce mortgage amounts outstanding on a wide array of loans and provide $1.5 billion in reparations for borrowers who were improperly removed from their homes.

But the precise terms of the states’ deal have not yet been disclosed. As the San Francisco analysis points out, “the settlement does not resolve most of the issues this report identifies nor immunizes lenders and servicers from a host of potential liabilities.” For example, it is a felony to knowingly file false documents with any public office in California.

In an interview late Tuesday, Mr. Ting said he would forward his findings and foreclosure files to the attorney general’s office and to local law enforcement officials. Kamala D. Harris, the California attorney general, announced a joint investigation into foreclosure abuses last December with the Nevada attorney general, Catherine Cortez Masto. The joint investigation spans both civil and criminal matters.

The depth of the problem raises questions about whether at least some foreclosures should be considered void, Mr. Ting said. “We’re not saying that every consumer should not have been foreclosed on or every lender is a bad actor, but there are significant and troubling issues,” he said.

California has been among the states hurt the most by the mortgage crisis. Because its laws, like those of 29 other states, do not require a judge to oversee foreclosures, the conduct of banks in the process is rarely scrutinized. Mr. Ting said his report was the first rigorous analysis of foreclosure improprieties in California and that it cast doubt on the validity of almost every foreclosure it examined.

“Clearly, we need to set up a process where lenders are following every part of the law,” Mr. Ting said in the interview. “It is very apparent that the system is broken from many different vantage points.”

The report, which was compiled by Aequitas Compliance Solutions, a mortgage regulatory compliance firm, did not identify specific banks involved in the irregularities. But among the legal violations uncovered in the analysis were cases where the loan servicer did not provide borrowers with a notice of default before beginning the eviction process; 8 percent of the audited foreclosures had that basic defect.

In a significant number of cases — 85 percent — documents recording the transfer of a defaulted property to a new trustee were not filed properly or on time, the report found. And in 45 percent of the foreclosures, properties were sold at auction to entities improperly claiming to be the beneficiary of the deeds of trust. In other words, the report said, “a ‘stranger’ to the deed of trust,” gained ownership of the property; as a result, the sale may be invalid, it said.

In 6 percent of cases, the same deed of trust to a property was assigned to two or more different entities, raising questions about which of them actually had the right to foreclose. Many of the foreclosures that were scrutinized showed gaps in the chain of title, the report said, indicating that written transfers from the original owner to the entity currently claiming to own the deed of trust have disappeared.

Banks involved in buying and selling foreclosed properties appear to be aware of potential problems if gaps in the chain of title cloud a subsequent buyer’s ownership of the home. Lou Pizante, a partner at Aequitas who worked on the audit, pointed to documents that banks now require buyers to sign holding the institution harmless if questions arise about the validity of the foreclosure sale.

The audit also raises serious questions about the accuracy of information recorded in the Mortgage Electronic Registry System, or MERS, which was set up in 1995 by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and major lenders. The report found that 58 percent of loans listed in the MERS database showed different owners than were reflected in other public documents like those filed with the county recorder’s office.

The report contradicted the contentions of many banks that foreclosure improprieties did little harm because the borrowers were behind on their mortgages and should have been evicted anyway. “We can deduce from the public evidence,” the report noted, “that there are indeed legitimate victims in the mortgage crisis. Whether these homeowners are systematically being deprived of legal safeguards and due process rights is an important question.”

A version of this article appeared in print on February 16, 2012, on page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Audit Uncovers Extensive Flaws in Foreclosures.

Fighting Foreclosure in California

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.



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:] 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.

Tim McCandless Blogs its amazing what you can do if you don’t watch TV


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.


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.

SB 94 and its interferance with the practice

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.


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.

Countrywide complaint


Homecomings TILA complaint GMAC


Leman Tila complaint


Lender class action


Option One Complaint Pick a payment lawsuit


What is worse bankruptcy or foreclosure?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Standing argument


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

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

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

Coalition sues lenders

Coalition Sues lenders

They are to give options to foreclosure 2923.5

(a) (1) A mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized
agent may not file a notice of default pursuant to Section 2924 until
30 days after contact is made as required by paragraph (2) or 30
days after satisfying the due diligence requirements as described in
subdivision (g).
   (2) A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall contact
the borrower in person (and this does not mean agent for the foreclosure company) or by telephone in order to assess the
borrower's financial situation and explore options for the borrower
to avoid foreclosure. During the initial contact, the mortgagee,
beneficiary, or authorized agent shall advise the borrower that he or
she has the right to request a subsequent meeting and, if requested,
the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall schedule the
meeting to occur within 14 days. The assessment of the borrower's
financial situation and discussion of options may occur during the
first contact, or at the subsequent meeting scheduled for that
purpose. In either case, the borrower shall be provided the toll-free
telephone number made available by the United States Department of
Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to find a HUD-certified housing
counseling agency. Any meeting may occur telephonically.
   (b) A notice of default filed pursuant to Section 2924 shall
include a declaration from the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized
agent that it has contacted the borrower, tried with due diligence to
contact the borrower as required by this section, or the borrower
has surrendered the property to the mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary,
or authorized agent.
   (c) If a mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent had
already filed the notice of default prior to the enactment of this
section and did not subsequently file a notice of rescission, then
the mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall, as
part of the notice of sale filed pursuant to Section 2924f, include a
declaration that either:
   (1) States that the borrower was contacted to assess the borrower'
s financial situation and to explore options for the borrower to
avoid foreclosure.
   (2) Lists the efforts made, if any, to contact the borrower in the
event no contact was made.
   (d) A mortgagee's, beneficiary's, or authorized agent's loss
mitigation personnel may participate by telephone during any contact
required by this section.
   (e) For purposes of this section, a "borrower" shall include a
mortgagor or trustor.
   (f) A borrower may designate a HUD-certified housing counseling
agency, attorney, or other advisor to discuss with the mortgagee,
beneficiary, or authorized agent, on the borrower's behalf, options
for the borrower to avoid foreclosure. That contact made at the
direction of the borrower shall satisfy the contact requirements of
paragraph (2) of subdivision (a). Any loan modification or workout
plan offered at the meeting by the mortgagee, beneficiary, or
authorized agent is subject to approval by the borrower.
   (g) A notice of default may be filed pursuant to Section 2924 when
a mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent has not contacted a
borrower as required by paragraph (2) of subdivision (a) provided
that the failure to contact the borrower occurred despite the due
diligence of the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent. For
purposes of this section, "due diligence" shall require and mean all
of the following:
   (1) A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall first
attempt to contact a borrower by sending a first-class letter that
includes the toll-free telephone number made available by HUD to find
a HUD-certified housing counseling agency.
   (2) (A) After the letter has been sent, the mortgagee,
beneficiary, or authorized agent shall attempt to contact the
borrower by telephone at least three times at different hours and on
different days.  Telephone calls shall be made to the primary
telephone number on file.
   (B) A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent may attempt to
contact a borrower using an automated system to dial borrowers,
provided that, if the telephone call is answered, the call is
connected to a live representative of the mortgagee, beneficiary, or
authorized agent.
   (C) A mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent satisfies the
telephone contact requirements of this paragraph if it determines,
after attempting contact pursuant to this paragraph, that the
borrower's primary telephone number and secondary telephone number or
numbers on file, if any, have been disconnected.
   (3) If the borrower does not respond within two weeks after the
telephone call requirements of paragraph (2) have been satisfied, the
mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall then send a
certified letter, with return receipt requested.
   (4) The mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent shall provide
a means for the borrower to contact it in a timely manner, including
a toll-free telephone number that will provide access to a live
representative during business hours.
   (5) The mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized agent has posted a
prominent link on the homepage of its Internet Web site, if any, to
the following information:
   (A) Options that may be available to borrowers who are unable to
afford their mortgage payments and who wish to avoid foreclosure, and
instructions to borrowers advising them on steps to take to explore
those options.
   (B) A list of financial documents borrowers should collect and be
prepared to present to the mortgagee, beneficiary, or authorized
agent when discussing options for avoiding foreclosure.
   (C) A toll-free telephone number for borrowers who wish to discuss
options for avoiding foreclosure with their mortgagee, beneficiary,
or authorized agent.
   (D) The toll-free telephone number made available by HUD to find a
HUD-certified housing counseling agency.
   (h) Subdivisions (a), (c), and (g) shall not apply if any of the
following occurs:
   (1) The borrower has surrendered the property as evidenced by
either a letter confirming the surrender or delivery of the keys to
the property to the mortgagee, trustee, beneficiary, or authorized
   (2) The borrower has contracted with an organization, person, or
entity whose primary business is advising people who have decided to
leave their homes on how to extend the foreclosure process and avoid
their contractual obligations to mortgagees or beneficiaries.
   (3) The borrower has filed for bankruptcy, and the proceedings
have not been finalized.
   (i) This section shall apply only to loans made from January 1,
2003, to December 31, 2007, inclusive, that are secured by
residential real property and are for owner-occupied residences. For
purposes of this subdivision, "owner-occupied" means that the
residence is the principal residence of the borrower.
  (j) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2013,
and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute,
that is enacted before January 1, 2013, deletes or extends that da

United First Class Action

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

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

Lawyers that get it Niel Garfield list

Lawyers that get it Niel Garfield list

The Doan deal

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

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

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

How does this law apply?

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

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

a) New Loan Amount: $330,000.00

b) New Interest Rate: 6% fixed

c) New Loan Length: 30 years

d) New Payment: $1978.52

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

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

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

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

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

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

Our Loan Modification program includes

1. Upside Down Analysis

2. Qualified Written Request and offer of Loan Modification

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

4. Letter Disputing debt (if advisable)

5. Cease and Desist letters (if advisable)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Who will be doing your negotiating?

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

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

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

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

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

HOEPA audit checklist




California help for homeowners in forclosure Civil Code 2923.6


3. Recently, the California Legislature found and declared the following in enacting California Civil Code 2923.6 on July 8, 2008:

(a) California is facing an unprecedented threat to its state economy because of skyrocketing residential property foreclosure rates in California. Residential property foreclosures increased sevenfold from 2006 to 2007, in 2007, more than 84,375 properties were lost to foreclosure in California, and 254,824 loans went into default, the first step in the foreclosure process.

(b) High foreclosure rates have adversely affected property values in California, and will have even greater adverse consequences as foreclosure rates continue to rise. According to statistics released by the HOPE NOW Alliance the number of completed California foreclosure sales in 20’07 increased almost threefold from 1902 in the first quarter to 5574 in the fourth quarter of that year. Those same statistics report that 10,556 foreclosure sales, almost double the number for the prior quarter, were completed just in the month of January 2008. More foreclosures means less money for schools, public safety, and other key services.

(c) Under specified circumstances, mortgage lenders and servicers are authorized under their pooling and servicing agreements to modify mortgage loans when the modification is in the best interest of investors. Generally, that modification may be deemed to be in the best interest of investors when the net present value of the income stream of the modified loan is greater than the amount that would be recovered through the disposition of the real property security through a foreclosure sale.

(d) It is essential to the economic health of California for the state to ameliorate the deleterious effects on the state economy and local economies and the California housing market that will result from the continued foreclosures of residential properties in unprecedented numbers by modifying the foreclosure process to require mortgagees, beneficiaries, or authorized agents to contact borrowers and explore options that could avoid foreclosure. These Changes in accessing the state’s foreclosure process are essential to ensure that the process does not exacerbate the current crisis by adding more foreclosures to the glut of foreclosed properties already on the market when a foreclosure could have been avoided. Those additional foreclosures will further destabilize the housing market with significant, corresponding deleterious effects on the local and state economy.

(e) According to a survey released by the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac) on January 31, 2008, 57 percent of the nation’s late-paying borrowers do not know their lenders may offer alternative to help them avoid foreclosure.

(f) As reflected in recent government and industry-led efforts to help troubled borrowers, the mortgage foreclosure crisis impacts borrowers not only in nontraditional loans, but also many borrowers in conventional loans.

(g) This act is necessary to avoid unnecessary foreclosures of residential properties and thereby provide stability to California’s statewide and regional economies and housing market by requiring early contact and communications between mortgagees, beneficiaries, or authorized agents and specified borrowers to explore options that could avoid foreclosure and by facilitating the modification or restructuring of loans in appropriate circumstances.

4. “Operation Malicious Mortgage’ is a nationwide operation coordinated by the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI to identify, arrest, and prosecute mortgage fraud violators.” San Diego Union Tribune, June 19, 2008. As shown below, Plaintiffs were victims of such mortgage fraud.
5. “Home ownership is the foundation of the American Dream. Dangerous mortgages have put millions of families in jeopardy of losing their homes.” CNN Money, December 24, 2007. The Loan which is the subject of this action to Plaintiff is of such character.
6. “Finding ways to avoid preventable foreclosures is a legitimate and important concern of public policy. High rates of delinquency and foreclosure can have substantial spillover effects on the housing market, the financial markets and the broader economy. Therefore, doing what we, can to avoid preventable foreclosures is not just in the interest of the lenders and borrowers. It’s in everybody’s best interest.” Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve Chairman, May 9, 2008. Plaintiff alleges that Defendants had the duty to prevent such foreclosure, but failed to so act.
7. “Most of these homeowners could avoid foreclosure if present loan holders would modify the existing loans by lowering the interest rate and making it fixed, capitalizing the arrearages, and forgiving a portion of the loan. The result would benefit lenders, homeowners, and their communities.” CNN Money, id.
8. On behalf of President Bush, Secretary Paulson has encouraged lenders to voluntarily freeze interest rates on adjustable-rate mortgages. Mark Zandl, chief economist for Mood’s commented, “There is no stick in the plan. There are a significant number of investors who would rather see homeowners default and go into foreclosure.” San Diego Union Tribune, id.
9. “Fewer than l%• of homeowners have experienced any help “from the Bush-Paulson plan.” San Diego Union Tribune, id. Plaintiffs’ are not of that sliver that have obtained help.
10. The Gravamen of Plaintiff’s complaint is that Defendants violated State and Federal laws which were specifically enacted to protect such abusive, deceptive, and unfair conduct by Defendants, and that Defendants cannot legally enforce a non-judicial foreclosure.

California and everybody else V Countrywide


Plaintiffs, insert Plaintiff, by and through their attorney of record, Timothy McCandless,
allege the following, on information and belief:
1. At all relevant times, Defendant Countrywide Financial Corporation (hereinafter “CFC”), a Delaware corporation, has transacted and continues to transact business throughout the State of California, including in insert county.
2. At all relevant times, Defendant Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (hereinafter “CHL”), a New York corporation, has transacted and continues to transact business throughout the State of California, including in insert county. CHL is a subsidiary of CFC.
3. At all relevant times, until on or about December 15, 2004, Full Spectrum
Lending, Inc. (hereinafter “Full Spectrum”), was a California corporation that transacted business throughout the State of California, including in insert county, and was a subsidiary of CFC. On or about December 15, 2004, Full Spectrum was merged into and became a division of CHL. For all conduct that occurred on or after December 15, 2004, any reference in this complaint to CHL includes reference to its Full Spectrum division.
4. Defendants CFC, CHL, and Full Spectrum are referred to collectively herein as
“Countrywide” or “the Countrywide Defendants.”
5. At all times pertinent hereto, Defendant Angelo Mozilo (hereinafter “Mozilo”) was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CFC. Defendant Mozilo directed, authorized, and ratified the conduct of the Countrywide Defendants set forth herein.
6. At all times pertinent hereto, Defendant David Sambol (hereinafter “Sambol”) is and was the President of CHL and, since approximately September, 2006, has served as the President andChief Operating Officer of CFC. Sambol directed, authorized and ratified the conduct of CHL, and after, September, 2006, the Countrywide Defendants, as set forth herein. Defendant Sambol is a resident of Los Angeles County.
7. Plaintiff is not aware of the true names and capacities of the Defendants sued as Does 1 through 100, inclusive, and therefore sues these Defendants by such fictitious names. Each of these fictitiously named Defendants is responsible in some manner for the activities alleged in this Complaint. Plaintiff will amend this Complaint to add the true names of the fictitiously named Defendants once they are discovered.
8. The Defendants identified in paragraphs 1 through 7, above, shall be referred to collectively as “Defendants.”
9. Whenever reference is made in this Complaint to any act of any Defendant(s), that
allegation shall mean that each Defendant acted individually and jointly with the other Defendants.
10. Any allegation about acts of any corporate or other business Defendant means that
the corporation or other business did the acts alleged through its officers, directors, employees, agents and/or representatives while they were acting within the actual or ostensible scope of their
11. At all relevant times, each Defendant committed the acts, caused or directed others to commit the acts, or permitted others to commit the acts alleged in this Complaint. Additionally, some or all of the Defendants acted as the agent of the other Defendants, and all of
the Defendants acted within the scope of their agency if acting as an agent of another.
12. At all relevant times, each Defendant knew or realized that the other Defendants were engaging in or planned to engage in the violations of law alleged in this Complaint. Knowing or realizing that other Defendants were engaging in or planning to engage in unlawful conduct, each Defendant nevertheless facilitated the commission of those unlawful acts. Each Defendant intended to and did encourage, facilitate, or assist in the commission of the unlawful acts, and thereby aided and abetted the other Defendants in the unlawful conduct.
13. At all relevant times, Defendants have engaged in a conspiracy, common enterprise, and common course of conduct, the purpose of which is and was to engage in the violations of law alleged in this Complaint. This conspiracy, common enterprise, and common course of conduct continues to the present.
14. The violations of law alleged in this Complaint occurred in insert county and elsewhere throughout California and the United States.



15. This action is brought against Defendants, who engaged in false advertising and unfair competition in the origination of residential mortgage loans and home equity lines of credit (hereinafter “HELOCs”).
16. Countrywide originated mortgage loans and HELOCs through several channels, including a wholesale origination channel and a retail origination channel. The Countrywide employees who marketed, sold or negotiated the terms of mortgage loans and HELOCs in any of
its origination channels, either directly to consumers or indirectly by working with mortgage brokers, are referred to herein as “loan officers.”
17. In Countrywide’s wholesale channel, loan officers in its Wholesale Lending Division (hereinafter “WLD”) and Specialty Lending Group (hereinafter “SLG”) (now merged into the WLD) worked closely with a nationwide network of mortgage brokers to originate loans. In its wholesale channel, Countrywide often did business as “America’s Wholesale Lender,” a fictitious business named owned by CHL. In Countrywide’s retail channel, loan officers employed by Countrywide in its Consumer Markets Division (“CMD”) sold loans directly to consumers. In addition, loan officers employed by Full Spectrum up until December 14, 2004, and thereafter by Countrywide’s Full Spectrum Lending Division (hereinafter “FSLD”), sold loans directly to consumers as part of Countrywide’s retail channel.
18. Countrywide maintained sophisticated electronic databases by means of which corporate management, including but not limited to Defendants Mozilo and Sambol, could obtain information regarding Countrywide’s loan production status, including the types of loan products, the number and dollar volume of loans, the underwriting analysis for individual loans, and the number of loans which were approved via underwriting exceptions. Defendants used this
information, together with data they received regarding secondary market trends, to develop and
modify the loan products that Countrywide offered and the underwriting standards that Countrywide applied.
19. The mortgage market changed in recent years from one in which lenders originated mortgages for retention in their own portfolios to one in which lenders attempted to generate as many mortgage loans as possible for resale on the secondary mortgage market. The goal for lenders such as Countrywide was not only to originate high mortgage loan volumes but
also to originate loans with above-market interest rates and other terms which would attract premium prices on the secondary market.
20. In 2004, in an effort to maximize Countrywide’s profits, Defendants set out to double Countrywide’s share of the national mortgage market to 30% through a deceptive scheme
to mass produce loans for sale on the secondary market. Defendants viewed borrowers as nothing more than the means for producing more loans, originating loans with little or no regard to borrowers’ long-term ability to afford them and to sustain homeownership. This scheme was created and maintained with the knowledge, approval and ratification of Defendants Mozilo and
21. Defendants implemented this deceptive scheme through misleading marketing practices designed to sell risky and costly loans to homeowners, the terms and dangers of which they did not understand, including by (a) advertising that it was the nation’s largest lender and could be trusted by consumers; (b) encouraging borrowers to refinance or obtain purchase money financing with complicated mortgage instruments like hybrid adjustable rate mortgages or payment option adjustable rate mortgages that were difficult for consumers to understand; (c) marketing these complex loan products to consumers by emphasizing the very low initial “teaser” or “fixed” rates while obfuscating or misrepresenting the later steep monthly payments and interest rate increases or risk of negative amortization; and (d) routinely soliciting borrowers to refinance only a few months after Countywide or the loan brokers with whom it had “business
partnerships” had sold them loans.
22. Defendants also employed various lending policies to further their deceptive scheme and to sell ever-increasing numbers of loans, including (a) the dramatic easing of Countrywide’s underwriting standards; (b) the increased use of low- or no-documentation loans which allowed for no verification of stated income or stated assets or both, or no request for income or asset information at all; (c) urging borrowers to encumber their homes up to 100% (or more) of the assessed value; and (d) placing borrowers in “piggyback” second mortgages in the form of higher interest rate HELOCs while obscuring their total monthly payment obligations.
23. Also to further the deceptive scheme, Defendants created a high-pressure sales environment that propelled its branch managers and loan officers to meet high production goals and close as many loans as they could without regard to borrower ability to repay. Defendants’ high-pressure sales environment also propelled loan officers to sell the riskiest types of loans, such as payment option and hybrid adjustable rate mortgages, because loan officers could easily sell them by deceptively focusing borrowers’ attention on the low initial monthly payments or interest rates. Defendants also made arrangements with a large network of mortgage brokers to procure loans for Countrywide and, through its loan pricing structure, encouraged these brokers to place homeowners in loans with interest rates higher than those for which they qualified, as well as prepayment penalty obligations. This system of compensation aided and abetted brokers in breaching their fiduciary duties to borrowers by inducing borrowers to accept unfavorable loan terms without full disclosure of the borrowers’ options and also compensated brokers beyond the reasonable value of the brokerage services they rendered.
24. Countrywide received numerous complaints from borrowers claiming that they did not understand their loan terms. Despite these complaints, Defendants turned a blind eye to the ongoing deceptive practices engaged in by Countrywide’s loan officers and loan broker “business partners,” as well as to the hardships created for borrowers by its loose underwriting practices. Defendants cared only about selling increasing numbers of loans at any cost, in order to maximize Countrywide’s profits on the secondary market.


25. Defendants’ deceptive scheme had one primary goal – to supply the secondary market with as many loans as possible, ideally loans that would earn the highest premiums. Over
a period of several years, Defendants constantly expanded Countrywide’s share of the consumer market for mortgage loans through a wide variety of deceptive practices, undertaken with the direction, authorization, and ratification of Defendants Sambol and Mozilo, in order to maximize its profits from the sale of those loans to the secondary market.
26. While Countrywide retained ownership of some of the loans it originated, it sold the vast majority of its loans on the secondary market, either as mortgage-backed securities or as pools of whole loans.
27. In the typical securitization transaction involving mortgage-backed securities, loans were “pooled” together and transferred to a trust controlled by the securitizer, such as Countrywide. The trust then created and sold securities backed by the loans in the pool. Holders of the securities received the right to a portion of the monthly payment stream from the pooled loans, although they were not typically entitled to the entire payment stream. Rather, the holders received some portion of the monthly payments. The securitizer or the trust it controlled often retained an interest in any remaining payment streams not sold to security holders. These securitizations could involve the pooling of hundreds or thousands of loans, and the sale of many
thousands of shares.
28. Countrywide generated massive revenues through these loan securitizations. Its reported securities trading volume grew from 647 billion dollars in 2000, to 2.9 trillion dollars in 2003, 3.1 trillion dollars in 2004, 3.6 trillion dollars in 2005, and 3.8 trillion dollars in 2006. (These figures relate to the ostensible values given to the securities by Countrywide or investors, and include securities backed by loans made by other lenders and purchased by Countrywide.)
29. For the sale of whole (i.e., unsecuritized) loans, Countrywide pooled loans and sold them in bulk to third-party investors, often (but not exclusively) Wall Street firms. The sale of whole loans generated additional revenues for Countrywide. Countrywide often sold the whole loans at a premium, meaning that the purchaser paid Countrywide a price in excess of 100% of the total principal amount of the loans included in the loan pool.
30. The price paid by purchasers of securities or pools of whole loans varied based on the demand for the particular types of loans included in the securitization or sale of whole loans. The characteristics of the loans, such as whether the loans are prime or subprime, whether the loans have an adjustable or fixed interest rate, or whether the loans include a prepayment penalty, all influenced the price.
31. Various types of loans and loan terms earned greater prices, or “premiums,” in the secondary market. For example, investors in mortgages and mortgage backed securities have been willing to pay higher premiums for loans with prepayment penalties. Because the prepayment penalty deters borrowers from refinancing early in the life of the loan, it essentially ensures that the income stream from the loan will continue while the prepayment penalty is in effect. Lenders, such as Countrywide, typically sought to market loans that earned it higher premiums, including loans with prepayment penalties.
32. In order to maximize the profits earned by the sale of its loans to the secondary market, Countrywide’s business model increasingly focused on finding ways to generate an ever larger volume of the types of loans most demanded by investors. For example, Countrywide developed and modified loan products by discussing with investors the prices they would be willing to pay for loans with particular characteristics (or for securities backed by loans with particular characteristics), and this enabled Countrywide to determine which loans were most likely to be sold on the secondary market for the highest premiums.
33. Further, rather than waiting to sell loans until after they were made, Countrywide would sell loans “forward” before loans were funded. In order to determine what loans it could sell forward, Countrywide would both examine loans in various stages of production and examine its projected volume of production over the next several months.
34. Loans that were sold forward were sold subject to a set of stipulations between Countrywide and the purchaser. For example, in a sale of whole loans, Countrywide might agree on October 1 that on December 1 it would deliver 2000 adjustable rate mortgage loans with anaverage interest rate of 6.0%, half of which would be subject to a prepayment penalty, among other characteristics. (None of these loans would have been made as of October 1.) Based on these stipulations regarding the characteristics of the loans to be included in the pool, an investor might agree to pay a price totaling 102.25% of the total face value of the loans. In other words, the purchaser agreed in advance to pay a premium of 2.25%. Then, if the loans actually delivered on December 1 had a slightly higher or lower average interest rate, the terms of the stipulation would specify how much the final price would be adjusted.
35. The information regarding the premiums that particular loan products and terms could earn on the secondary market was forwarded to Countrywide’s production department, [Redacted description of production department’s responsibilities.]
36. Countrywide originated as many loans as possible not only to maximize its profits on the secondary market, but to earn greater profits from servicing the mortgages it sold. Countrywide often retained the right to service the loans it securitized and sold as pools of whole
loans. The terms of the securitizations and sales agreements for pools of whole loans authorized Countrywide to charge the purchasers a monthly fee for servicing the loans, typically a percentage of the payment stream on the loan.
37. Tantalized by the huge profits earned by selling loans to the secondary market, Defendants constantly sought to increase Countrywide’s market share: the greater the number and percentage of loans it originated, the greater the revenue it could earn on the secondary market. Countrywide executives, including Defendant Mozilo, publicly stated that they sought to
increase Countrywide’s market share to 30% of all mortgage loans made and HELOCs extended
in the country.
38. In its 2006 annual report, Countrywide trumpeted the fact that “[w]hile the overall residential loan production market in the United States has tripled in size since 2000, from $1.0 trillion to $2.9 trillion at the end of 2006, Countrywide has grown nearly three times faster, going from $62 billion in loan originations in 2000 to $463 billion in 2006.”
39. In addition, Countrywide directly and indirectly motivated its branch managers, loan officers and brokers to market the loans that would earn the highest premiums on the secondary market without regard to borrower ability to repay. For example, the value on the secondary market of the loans generated by a Countrywide branch was an important factor in determining the branch’s profitability and, in turn, branch manager compensation. Managers were highly motivated to pressure their loan officers to sell loans that would earn Countrywide the highest premium on the secondary market, which resulted in aggressive marketing of such loans to consumers.
40. The secondary market affected Countrywide’s pricing of products and, in order to
sell more loans on the secondary market, Countrywide relaxed its underwriting standards and liberally granted exceptions to those standards. Countrywide managers and executives, including but not limited to Defendants Mozilo and Sambol, had access to information that provided transparency and a seamless connection between secondary market transactions, the loan production process, and managerial and sales incentives.


41. Countrywide offered a variety of loan products that were both financially risky and difficult for borrowers to understand, including in particular payment option and hybrid adjustable rate mortgages and second loans in the form of home equity lines of credit.
A. The Pay Option ARM
42. Particularly after 2003, Countrywide aggressively marketed its payment option adjustable rate mortgage (“Pay Option ARM”) under the direction, authorization and ratification of Defendants Mozilo and Sambol. The Pay Option ARM, which Countrywide classified as a “prime” product, is a complicated mortgage product which entices consumers by offering a very low “teaser” rate – often as low as 1% – for an introductory period of one or three months. At the end of the introductory period, the interest rate increases dramatically. Despite the short duration of the low initial interest rate, Countrywide’s Pay Option ARMs often include a one, two or three-year prepayment penalty.
43. When the teaser rate on a Pay Option ARM expires, the loan immediately becomes an adjustable rate loan. Unlike most adjustable rate loans, where the rate can only change once every year or every six months, the interest rate on a Pay Option ARM can change every month (if there is a change in the index used to compute the rate).
44. Countrywide’s Pay Option ARMs were typically tied to either the “MTA,” “LIBOR” or “COFI” index. The MTA index is the 12-month average of the annual yields on actively traded United States Treasury Securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year as published by the Federal Reserve Board. The LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) index is based on rates that contributor banks in London offer each other for inter-bank deposits. Separate LIBOR indices are kept for one month, six-month, and one-year periods, based on the duration of the deposit. For example, the one-year LIBOR index reported for June 2008 is the rate for a twelve-month deposit in U.S. dollars as of the last business day of the previous month. The COFI (11th District Cost of Funds Index) is the monthly weighted average of the interest rates paid on checking and savings accounts offered by financial institutions operating in the states of Arizona, California and Nevada.
45. Although the interest rate increases immediately after the expiration of the short period of time during which the teaser rate is in effect, a borrower with a Pay Option ARM has the option of making monthly payments as though the interest rate had not changed. Borrowers with Pay Option ARMs typically have four different payment options during the first five years of the loan. The first option is a “minimum” payment that is based on the introductory interest rate. The minimum payment, which Countrywide marketed as the “payment rate,” is the lowest of the payment options presented to the borrower. Most of Countrywide’s borrowers choose to make the minimum payment.
46. The minimum payment on a Pay Option ARM usually is less than the interest accruing on the loan. The unpaid interest is added to the principal amount of the loan, resulting in negative amortization. The minimum payment remains the same for one year and then increases by 7.5% each year for the next four years. At the fifth year, the payment will be “recast” to be fully amortizing, causing a substantial jump in the payment amount often called “payment shock.”
47. However, the loan balance on a Pay Option ARM also has a negative amortization cap, typically 115% of the original principal of the loan. If the balance hits the cap, the monthly payment is immediately raised to the fully amortizing level (i.e., all payments after the date the cap is reached must be sufficient to pay off the new balance over the remaining life of the loan). When that happens, the borrower experiences significant payment shock. A borrower with a Countrywide Pay Option ARM with a 1% teaser rate, who is making the minimum payment, is very likely to hit the negative amortization cap and suffer payment shock well before the standard 5-year recast date.
48. Instead of making the minimum payment, the borrower has the option of making an interest-only payment for five years. The borrower then experiences payment shock when the payment recasts to cover both principal and interest for the remaining term of the loan. Alternatively, the borrower can choose to make a fully amortizing principal and interest payment based on either a 15-year or a 30-year term.
49. The ever-increasing monthly payments and payment shock characteristic of Pay Option ARMs are illustrated by the following example of a Countrywide loan. The loan had an initial principal balance of $460,000.00, a teaser rate of 1%, and a margin of 2.9% (such that after the one-month teaser rate expired, the interest would be the 1-month LIBOR index plus 2.9%, rounded to the nearest 1/8th percent). After the teaser rate expired, based on the 1-month LIBOR rate as of the date the borrower obtained the loan, the interest rate would increase to 7.00%. Assuming the 7.00% interest rate remained in place, and the borrower chose to make the minimum payment for as long as possible, the payment schedule would be approximately as follows:
a. $1,479.54 per month for the first year;
b. $1,590.51 per month for the second year;
c. $1,709.80 per month for the third year;
d. $1,838.04 per month for the fourth year;
e. $1,975.89 per month for the first nine months of the fifth year; and
f. approximately $3747.83 per month for the remaining twenty-five years
and three months on the loan.
50. Once the payments reach $3747.83, this Pay Option ARM will have negatively amortized such that the balance of the loan will have increased to approximately $523,792.33. At that point, the borrower will be faced with a payment more than two-and-a-half times greater than the initial payment and likely will be unable to refinance unless his or her home has increased in value at least commensurately with the increased loan balance. In addition, increases in the LIBOR rate could cause the borrower to hit the negative amortization cap earlier, and also could result in even higher payments. If the interest rate reached 8%, just 1% higher, the negative amortization cap would be reached sooner and payments could reach $4,000.00 per month, or higher.
51. During the underwriting process, Countrywide did not consider whether borrowers would be able to afford such payment shock. Further, depending on the state of the his or her finances, even the interim increases in the minimum payment may well have caused dramatic hardship for the borrower.
52. Even if the borrower elects to make interest-only payments, he or she still will experience payment shock. Again assuming the interest rate stays constant at 7.00% over the life of the loan, the borrower’s initial payments would be approximately $2,683.33 for five years. Thereafter, the payment will increase to approximately $3,251.18 per month, an increase of over 20%.
53. Nearly all Countrywide’s Pay Option ARM borrowers will experience payment shock such as that illustrated in paragraphs 49 through 52 above. As of December 31, 2006, almost 88% of the Pay Option ARM portfolio held by Defendants consisted of loans that had experienced some negative amortization. This percentage increased to 91% as of December 31, 2007.
54. Countrywide sold thousands of Pay Option ARMs, either through its branches or through brokers. For example, on a national basis, approximately 19% of the loans originated by Countrywide in 2005 were Pay Option ARMs. Countrywide made many of these loans in California.
55. These loans were highly profitable. Countrywide had a gross profit margin of approximately 4% on Pay Option ARMs, compared to 2% on mortgages guaranteed by the Federal Housing Administration.
56. Countrywide retained ownership of a number of loans for investment purposes, including thousands of Pay Option ARMs. Countrywide reported the negative amortization amounts on these Pay Option ARMs (i.e., the amount by which the balances on those loans increased) as income on its financial statements. The negative amortization “income” earned by Countrywide totaled 1.2 billion dollars by the end of 2007.
57. Moreover, Pay Option ARMs with higher margins could be sold for a higher premium on the secondary market, because the higher margins would produce a greater interest rate and therefore a larger income stream. To insure an abundant stream of such loans, Countrywide pushed its loan officers to sell Pay Option ARMs and paid loan brokers greater compensation for selling a Pay Option ARM with a higher margin, or above-par rate, thus encouraging them to put consumers into higher cost loans. Countrywide also used a variety of deceptive marketing techniques to sell its Pay Option ARMs to consumers.
58. Countrywide deceptively marketed the Pay Option ARM by aggressively promoting the teaser rate. Television commercials emphasized that the payment rate could be as low as 1% and print advertisements lauded the extra cash available to borrowers because of the low minimum payment on the loan. Television advertisements did not effectively distinguish between the “payment rate” and the interest rate on the loans, and any warnings about potential negative amortization in Countrywide’s print advertisements were buried in densely written small type.
59. Borrowers, enticed by the low teaser rate, were easily distracted from the fine print in the loan documents and did not fully understand the terms or the financial implications of Countrywide’s Pay Option ARMs.
60. When a borrower obtained a Pay Option ARM from Countrywide, the only initial monthly payment amount that appeared anywhere in his or her loan documents was the minimum payment amount. In other words, documents provided to the borrower assumed he or she would make only the minimum payment. Thus, a borrower would not know the monthly payment necessary to make a payment that would, for example, cover accruing interest, until he or she received the first statement after the expiration of the teaser rate, well after all loan documents were signed.
61. Countrywide and the brokers it accepted as its “business partners” misrepresented or obfuscated the true terms of the Pay Option ARMs offered by Countrywide, including but not limited to misrepresenting or obfuscating the amount of time that the interest rate would be fixed for the loan, misrepresenting or obfuscating the risk of negative amortization and the fact that the
payment rate was not the interest rate, and misrepresenting or obfuscating that the minimum payment would not apply for the life of the loan.
62. Countrywide and its business partner brokers also misrepresented or obfuscated how difficult it might be for borrowers to refinance a Pay Option ARM loan. In fact, after making only the minimum payment, because of negative amortization the borrower likely would not be able to refinance a Pay Option ARM loan unless the home serving as security for the mortgage had increased in value. This is particularly true in cases for borrowers whose loans have a very high loan-to-value ratio.
63. Countrywide and its business partner brokers often misrepresented or obfuscated the fact that a particular Pay Option ARM included a prepayment penalty and failed to explain the effect that making only the minimum payment would have on the amount of the prepayment penalty. If a borrower seeks to refinance after having made the minimum payment for an extended period, but while a prepayment penalty is still in effect, the negative amortization can cause the amount of the prepayment penalty to increase. Prepayment penalties typically equal six
months worth of accrued interest. As negative amortization causes the loan principal to increase, it also causes an increase in the amount of interest that accrues that each month, thereby increasing the prepayment penalty.
64. Countrywide and its business partner brokers also represented that the prepayment penalty could be waived if the borrower refinanced with Countrywide. However, Countrywide sells most of the loans it originates, and Countrywide has at most limited authority to waive prepayment penalties on loans it does not own, even when it controls the servicing (and is often required to pay the prepayment penalties on loans it does not own in the instances where it is not able to collect the penalty from the borrower).
B. Hybrid ARM Loans
65. In addition to the Pay Option ARMs, Countrywide offered “Hybrid” ARM loans. Hybrid ARMs have a fixed interest rate for a period of 2, 3, 5, 7, or 10 years, and then an adjustable interest rate for the remaining loan term. The products described below were offered with the approval, direction and ratification of Defendants Sambol and Mozilo.
(1) 2/28 and 3/27 ARMs
6. Countrywide typically offered “2/28” Hybrid ARMs through its Full Spectrum Lending Division. These 2/28 ARM loans have low, fixed interest rates for the first two years (the “2” in “2/28”). The loans often only required interest-only payments during the period the initial rate was in effect, or sometimes for the first five years of the loan.
67. After the initial rate expires, the interest rate can adjust once every six months for the next 28 years (the “28” in “2/28”). During this period, the interest rate typically is determined by adding a margin to the one-year LIBOR index, except that the amount the interest rate can increase at one time may be limited to 1.5%. Because the initial rate is set independent of the index, the payment increase can be dramatic, particularly if the loan called for interest-only payments for the first two or five years.
68. Countrywide also offered “3/27” ARMs, which operate similarly to 2/28 ARMs, except that the low initial rate is fixed for three rather than two years, and the interest rate then adjusts for 27 rather than 28 years.
69. Countrywide underwrote 2/28 and 3/27 ARMs based on the payment required while the initial rate was in effect, without regard to whether the borrower could afford the loan thereafter. And, like Pay Option ARMs, Countrywide’s 2/28 and 3/27 ARMs typically contain prepayment penalties.
70. A borrower with a 2/28 ARM, like a borrower with a Pay Option ARM, is subjected to steadily increasing monthly payments as well as payment shock. For example, a Countrywide borrower obtained a 2/28 ARM for $570,000, with an initial rate of 8.95% for the first two years. Thereafter, the interest rate was to be calculated by adding a margin of 7.95% to the six-month LIBOR index. The promissory note for this 2/28 ARM provides that the interest rate can never be lower 8.95% and can go as high as 15.95%. Based on the LIBOR rate that applied at the time the borrower received the loan and the terms of the note governing interest rate (and therefore payment) increases, the anticipated payment schedule was:
a. $4,565.86 per month for two years;
b. $5,141.98 per month for six months;
c. $5,765.48 per month for six months; and
d. payments of $6,403.01 per month or more thereafter.
71. This borrower’s monthly payments on this 2/28 ARM will thus increase by approximately 40% just during the 12 months between the end of the second year and beginning of the fourth year of the loan.
(2) 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 ARMs
72. Countrywide also offered 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 “interest-only” loans. Marketed as having “fixed” or “fixed period” interest rates, these loans carried a fixed interest rate for the first
5, 7, or 10 years respectively. These loans were underwritten based on the initial fixed, interest only payment until at least the end of 2005. However, when the fixed rate period expires, the interest rate adjusts once per year and is determined by adding a margin to an index. The monthly payments dramatically increase after the interest-only period, because payments over the remaining 25, 23, or 20 years are fully amortized to cover both principal and interest.
73. For example, if a borrower had a 5/1 loan for $500,000 that remained constant at 7.5% for the life of the loan, the monthly payments during the five year interest-only period would be $3,125.00. The monthly payment would increase to approximately $3,694.96 for the remaining 25 years of the loan. If the interest rate increased to 8% over the remaining 25 years, the payment would jump to $3,859.08 per month.
74. Collectively, 2/28, 3/27, 5/1, 7/1, and 10/1 ARMs will be referred to herein as “Hybrid ARMs.”
(3) Countrywide’s Deceptive Marketing of its Hybrid ARMs
75. Countrywide marketed Hybrid ARMs by emphasizing the low monthly payment and low “fixed” initial interest rate. Countrywide and its business partner brokers misrepresented or obfuscated the true terms of these loans, including but not limited to misrepresenting or obfuscating the amount of time that the fixed rate would be in effect, misrepresenting or obfuscating the fact that the interest rates on the loans are adjustable rather than fixed, and obfuscating or misrepresenting the amount by which payments could increase once the initial fixed rate expired.
76. Countrywide and its business partner brokers also often misrepresented or obfuscated the fact that Hybrid ARMs, particularly 2/28 and 3/27 ARMs, included prepayment penalties, or represented that the prepayment penalties could be waived when the borrowers refinanced with Countrywide. However, most loans originated by Countrywide are sold on the secondary market and, as described in paragraph 64, above, Countrywide generally cannot waive the terms of loans it does not own, even when it controls the servicing.
77. Countrywide and its brokers also misrepresented or obfuscated how difficult it might be for borrowers to refinance Hybrid ARMs. Although borrowers often were assured that they would be able to refinance, those seeking to refinance Hybrid ARMs after the expiration of the initial interest-only period likely would be able to do so unless the home serving as security for the mortgage had maintained or increased its value. This was particularly true for borrowers whose loans have very high loan-to-value ratios, as there would be no new equity in the borrowers’ homes to help them pay fees and costs associated with the refinances (as well as any prepayment penalties that may still apply).
C. Home Equity Lines of Credit
78. Countrywide also aggressively marketed HELOCs, particularly to borrowers who had previously obtained or were in the process of obtaining a first mortgage loan from Countrywide. Defendants referred to such HELOCs as “piggies” or “piggyback loans,” and referred to simultaneously funded first loans and HELOCs as “combo loans.” The first loan typically covered 80% of the appraised value of the home securing the mortgage, while the HELOC covered any of the home’s remaining value up to (and sometimes exceeding) 20%. Thus, the HELOC and the first loan together often encumbered 100% or more of a home’s appraised value.
79. Under the terms of the piggyback HELOCs, borrowers received monthly bills for interest-only payments for the first five years of the loan term (which could be extended to ten years at Countrywide’s option), during which time they could also tap any unused amount of the equity line. This was called the “draw period.”
80. Because Countrywide offered HELOCs as piggybacks to Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, 100% or more of a property’s appraised value could be encumbered with loans that required interest-only payments or allowed for negative amortization.
81. Countrywide typically urged borrowers to draw down the full line of credit when HELOCs initially funded. This allowed Countrywide to earn as much interest as possible on the HELOCs it kept in its portfolio, and helped generate the promised payment streams for HELOCs sold on the secondary market. For the borrower, however, drawing down the full line of credit at funding meant that there effectively was no “equity line” available during the draw period, as the borrower would be making interest-only payments for five years.
82. Upon the end of the draw period, the HELOC notes generally require borrowers to repay the principal and interest in fully amortizing payments over a fifteen year period. A fully drawn HELOC was therefore functionally a 20- or 25-year closed-end mortgage. However, Countrywide did not provide borrowers with any documents or other materials to help them calculate the principal and interest payments that would be due after the draw, or interest-only, period.
83. Countrywide HELOCs were underwritten not to the fully amortizing payment, but to the interest-only payments due during the draw period. Countrywide typically charged an early termination fee for HELOCs closed before three years, and sometimes would charge a monthly fee for HELOCs where the balance fell below a specified amount.
84. A borrower with an interest-only or a negatively amortizing loan faces even greater payment shock if he or she also has a fully drawn HELOC. For example, a borrower with fully drawn $100,000 HELOC at a 7.00% interest rate will have monthly interest-only payments of approximately $583.33. At the end of the draw period, the payment will increase to $898.83. This payment increase is in addition to whatever payment increase the borrower is experiencing on his or her first mortgage. This potential dual payment shock is typically obfuscated from or not explained to borrowers. Moreover, a borrower with a piggyback HELOC, particularly a borrower whose first mortgage negatively amortized or allowed interest-only payments, is even less likely to be able to refinance at the time of his or her payment shock unless his or her home has increased in value.

85. Driven by its push for market share, Countrywide did whatever it took to sell more loans, faster – including by easing its underwriting criteria and disregarding the minimal underwriting criteria it claimed to require. By easing and disregarding its underwriting criteria, Countrywide increased the risk that borrowers would lose their homes. Defendants Mozilo and Sambol actively pushed for easing Countrywide’s underwriting standards and documentation requirements, allowed the liberal granting of exceptions to those already eased standards and requirements, and received reports detailing the actual underwriting characteristics and performance of the loans Countrywide funded.
A. Countrywide’s Low- and No-Documentation Loans
86. Traditionally, lenders required borrowers seeking mortgage loans to document their income, for example by providing W-2s or tax returns, as well as assets. Countrywide, however, disregarded such documentation requirements with respect to its riskiest loan products and introduced a variety of reduced or no documentation loan programs that eased and quickened the loan origination process. The vast majority of the Hybrid ARMs and nearly all of the Pay Option ARMs originated by Countrywide were reduced or no documentation loans.
87. As an example of one of its widespread no documentation programs, Countrywide made Pay Option ARMs, Hybrid ARMs, and piggyback HELOCs, among other loans, pursuant to its “Stated Income Stated Assets,” or “SISA,” program. The borrower’s income and assets were stated but not verified. Employment was verbally confirmed and income was supposed to be roughly consistent with incomes earned in the type of job in which the borrower was employed. Reduced documentation loans, in turn, allowed borrowers to document their income through the provision of W-2 tax forms, bank statements, or verbal verification of employment.
88. These low- and no-documentation programs, such as SISA, enabled Countrywide to process loans more quickly and therefore to make more loans. Stated income loans also encouraged the overstating of income – loan brokers and officers either overstated the borrower’s income without his or her knowledge, or led the borrower into overstating his or her income without explaining the risk of default that the borrower would face with a loan he or she would not actually afford. According to a former Countrywide loan officer, for example, a loan officer might say, “with your credit score of X, for this house, and to make X payment, X is the income you need to make.” Many borrowers responded by agreeing that they made X amount in income.
89. For stated income loans, it became standard practice for loan processors and underwriters to check to see if a stated income was within a reasonable range, with more tolerance on the upside for California salaries. Because loan officers knew about this practice, they too would look at to figure out the parameters ahead of time and know by how much they could overstate (or fabricate) income.
B. Countrywide’s Easing of Underwriting Standards
90. Countrywide also relaxed, and often disregarded, the traditional underwriting standards used to separate acceptable from unacceptable risk in order to produce more loans for the secondary market. Initially, for example, a borrower had to have a credit score of for a stated income loan. As the secondary market’s appetite for loans increased, Countrywide relaxed its guidelines so that a borrower with a credit score of could get a stated income loan with 100% financing.
91. Underwriting standards which Countrywide relaxed included qualifying interest rates (the rate used to determine whether borrowers can afford loans), loan-to-value ratios (the amount of the loan(s) compared to lower of the appraised value or sale price of the property), and debt-to-income ratios (the amount of borrowers’ monthly income compared to their monthly indebtedness).
92. With respect to qualifying rates, while Countrywide offered loans with initial low payments that would increase, loans were underwritten without regard to borrowers’ long-term financial circumstances. Until at least the end of 2005, Countrywide underwrote and approved its Hybrid ARMs based on the fixed interest rate applicable during the initial period of the loan, without taking into account whether the borrowers would be able to afford the dramatically higher payments that would inevitably be required during the remaining term of the loan.
93. In addition, Countrywide’s approach to underwriting and marketing Pay Option ARMs diverged. Countrywide underwrote Pay Option ARMs based on the assumption that borrowers would not make the minimum payment and therefore not experience negative amortization. In contrast, Countrywide marketed Pay Option ARMs by emphasizing the minimum payments. Countrywide continued this underwriting practice even though it knew that many of its Pay Option ARM borrowers would choose to make only the minimum monthly payment and that a high percentage of such borrowers had experienced negative amortization on their homes, as described in paragraph 53, above.
94. Countrywide also underwrote and approved HELOCs based on the borrower’s ability to afford the interest-only payments during the initial period of the loan, not based on the borrower’s ability to afford the subsequent, fully amortized principal and interest payments.
95. Countrywide eased other basic underwriting standards. Starting in 2003, as Defendants pushed to expand market share, underwriting standards and verification requirements became more flexible to enable underwriters to approve loans faster. Countrywide, for example, allowed higher and higher loan-to-value (“LTV”) and combined loan-to-value (“CLTV”) ratios –the higher the ratio, the greater the risk that a borrower will default and will be unable to refinance in order to avoid default. Similarly, Countrywide approved loans with higher and higher debt-to-income (“DTI”) ratios – the higher ratio, the greater the risk the borrower will have cash-flow problems and miss mortgage payments.
C. Countrywide’s “Exception” Underwriting Compromised Standards
96. Countrywide approved loans that it knew to be high risk, and therefore highly likely to end up in default, by ignoring its own minimal underwriting guidelines. Based on the proposed loan terms and the borrower’s financial and credit information, Countrywide’s computerized underwriting system (“CLUES”) issued a loan analysis report that rated the consumer’s credit and ability to repay the loan, and also indicated whether a proposed loan was in compliance with Countrywide’s underwriting guidelines. Based on this analysis, the CLUES report would recommend that the loan be approved, the loan be declined, or that the loan be “referred” to manual underwriting. CLUES, for example, might flag a “rule violation” if the borrower’s LTV, CLTV or credit score fell outside the guidelines for a given loan product. In such instances, CLUES would make a recommendation to “refer” the loan for further analysis by
a Countrywide underwriter.
97. The CLUES result was only a recommendation, not a final decision. The role of the underwriter was basically to verify information and ultimately decide whether to approve a loan based on Countrywide’s underwriting criteria. Underwriters could overcome potential rule violations or other underwriting issues flagged by CLUES by adding on “compensating factors,” such as letters from the borrower that addressed a low FICO score or provided explanations regarding a bankruptcy, judgment lien, or other issues affecting credit status.
98. Underwriters were under intense pressure to process and fund as many loans as possible. They were expected to process 60 to 70 loans per day, making careful consideration of borrowers’ financial circumstances and the suitability of the loan product for them nearly impossible.
99. As the pressure to produce loans increased, underwriters, their superiors, branch managers, and regional vice presidents were given the authority to grant exceptions to Countrywide’s minimal underwriting standards and to change the terms of a loan suggested by CLUES. Even if CLUES had recommended denying a loan, the underwriter could override that denial if he or she obtained approval from his or her supervisor.
100. Because of the intense pressure to produce loans, underwriters increasingly had to justify why they were not approving a loan or granting an exception for unmet underwriting criteria to their supervisors, as well as to dissatisfied loan officers and branch managers who earned commissions based on loan volume. Any number of Countrywide managerial employees could override an underwriter’s decision to decline a loan and request an exception to an underwriting standard. Countrywide employees also could submit a request for an exception to Countrywide’s Structured Loan Desk in Plano, Texas, a department specifically set up by Countrywide, at the direction of Defendants Mozilo and Sambol, to grant underwriting exceptions. According to a former employee, in 2006, 15,000 to 20,000 loans a month were processed through the Structured Loan Desk.
101. Countrywide granted exceptions liberally, further diluting its already minimal underwriting standards for making loans. Countrywide granted exception requests in a variety of circumstances where one or more basic underwriting criteria of the borrower did not meet loan product guidelines, including, for example, LTV or CLTV, loan amount and credit score. Countrywide placed borrowers in risky loans such as Hybrid and Pay Option ARMs, based on stated but not verified income and assets, and then overlooked its few remaining underwriting indicia of risk.
102. To attract more business Countrywide promoted its relaxed underwriting standards and ready grant of exceptions to brokers. For example, Countrywide promoted “Unsurpassed Product Choices and Flexible Guidelines,” including (a) “100% financing for purchase or refinancing” loans; (b) “80/20 combo loans for stated Self-Employed and Non Self- Employed;” (c) “Stated Self-Employed and Non Self-Employed loan programs with as low as a 500 credit score.” Countrywide stated that its “Specialty Lending Group’s experienced and knowledgeable loan experts are empowered to review all loan packages, make sound credit decisions and provide quality lending solutions – yes, even for ‘hard to close’ loans.”
D. Countrywide’s Risk-Layering and Pressure to Sell “Piggyback” Loans
Further Loosened Underwriting Practices

103. Countrywide compromised its underwriting standards even further by risk layering, i.e., combining high risk loans with one or more relaxed underwriting standards. Countrywide was well aware that layered risk created a greater likelihood that borrowers would lose their homes.
104. As early as January 2005, Countrywide identified the following borrower/loan characteristics as having a negative impact on the underwriting evaluation process: [Redacted description of risk factors identified by Countrywide.]
105. Nonetheless, Countrywide combined these very risk factors in the loans it promoted to borrowers. Countrywide introduced, for example, loan programs that allowed for higher LTVs/CLTVs, less documentation and lower credit scores. A high risk loan such as a Pay Option ARM could be sold to borrowers with increasingly lower credit scores. In addition, by accepting higher DTI ratios and combining Pay Option ARMs with second mortgages that allowed borrowers to finance a down payment, Countrywide would qualify borrowers with fewer financial resources, and hence a higher likelihood of default.
106. With a second or “piggyback” mortgage, the borrower could get a first loan for 80% of the purchase price (i.e., an 80% LTV) and a second loan for 20% of the purchase price (a 20% LTV), for a combined loan-to-value ratio of 100%. This allowed the borrower to finance a down payment and also avoid paying mortgage insurance (which typically is required if the LTV
on a first loan exceeds 80%). Such loans obviously were risky as the borrower had contributed no funds whatsoever to the loan and, if the loan required no documentation, had only stated his or her income and assets.
107. The following examples describe risk layering and underwriting exceptions granted to several California borrowers to whom Countrywide sold Hybrid or Pay Option ARMs. These examples represent only a small percentage of the large number of California residents who are likely facing foreclosure due to Countrywide’s widespread practice of risk-layering.
a. Countrywide loan officer convinced a borrower to take a Pay Option ARM with a 1-month teaser rate and a 3-year prepayment penalty, plus a full-draw piggyback HELOC, based on the loan officer’s representation that the value of the borrower’s home would continue to rise and he would have no problem refinancing. The borrower’s DTI was % and FICO was . An exception was granted for . The loan closed in January 2006, and a Notice of Default issued in June 2007. [Redacted example of underwriting exception approved by Countrywide.]
b. The CLUES report issued for a loan applicant in February 2005 stated that [Redacted example of underwriting exception approved by Countrywide.]
c. [Redacted example of underwriting exception approved by Countrywide.]

108. Driven by its push for market share, Countrywide did whatever it took to sell more loans, faster – including by engaging in a number of deceptive marketing practices under the direction and with the ratification of Defendants Mozilo and Sambol.
A. Countrywide Deceptively Lulled Borrowers Into Believing That it Was a
“Trusted Advisor” Looking Out for the Borrowers’ Best Interests

109. Countrywide sought to induce borrowers into believing that it was looking out for their best interest through various types of solicitations. Countrywide published television, radio, and print advertisements, for example, touting itself as “the company you can trust” and urging consumers to “join the millions of homeowners who have trusted Countrywide.” Countrywide capitalized on its status as the “number one mortgage lender” and claimed that it was a mortgage loan expert capable of advising customers. For example, Countrywide claimed that it “had years to perfect [its] craft” and offered “industry leading expertise” and that “[w]ith over 35 years of service and one of the widest selections of loan programs, [it] is an expert at finding solutions for all kinds of situations.” As another example, Countrywide offered “consultation[s] with our home loan experts” and claimed it “would go the distance with you to help secure a loan program to fit your financial needs and goals.”
110. Countrywide also engaged in extensive solicitation campaigns aimed at those borrowers it was easiest for it to find — existing Countrywide customers. Countrywide targeted existing customers with tailored letters and e-mail solicitations, creating the impression that it was a mortgage expert that advised its borrowers, at no cost, regarding the financial mortgage options that were in their best interest. For example, Countrywide took advantage of Pay Option ARM customers’ worries regarding potential future “steep payment adjustments,” by sending them a “special invitation” to talk with “specially-trained consultants” regarding “your current financial situation, at no charge, to see if refinancing may help put you in a better financial position.”
111. Countrywide also created an annual “anniversary” campaign, by sending letters and e-mails to existing customers offering a “free Anniversary Loan Review,” which it touted as a “home loan analysis” with an “experienced Loan Consultant.” Countrywide advertised itself in
these solicitations as, for example, an “expert at finding solutions” and “smart financial options” that would best suit borrowers’ financial needs.
112. Countrywide operated an extensive telemarketing operation, aimed both at new potential customers and existing Countrywide customers, in which it touted its expertise and claimed to find the best financial options for its customers. For example, Countrywide instructed its Full Spectrum loan officers to memorize a script that instructed them to “build rapport” and “gain trust” in conversations with potential customers, and to do so with existing customers by “positioning” telephone calls, the true purpose of which was to sell refinance loans, as a Customer Service loan check-up[s].” On these calls, loan officers were instructed to . [Redacted description of marketing training for loan officers.] Countrywide instructed FSLD loan officers to state, for example, “I’m an experienced mortgage lending professional specializing in helping people improve their financial situation.” Countrywide even instructed loan officers to offer to provide advice on other lender’s mortgage loans and to tell potential customers, that “even if you’re working with someone else and just want a second opinion – mortgages can be very complicated. I’m here for that.”
113. In addition, when handling initial calls from prospective customers, for example, Countrywide instructed its FSLD loan officers to . [Redacted description of marketing training for loan officers.] Contrary to the kinds of representations described in this paragraph and paragraphs 109 through 112, above, Countrywide often did not sell borrowers loans that were in their best interest.
B. Countrywide Encouraged Serial Refinancing
114. In order to constantly produce more loans for sale to the secondary market, Countrywide aggressively marketed refinance loans to those homeowners it had no trouble finding — Countrywide customers. Countrywide misled these borrowers regarding the benefits of
refinancing, including by using the deceptive marketing practices described in paragraphs 119 through 128 below. In addition, Countrywide created a perpetual market for its refinance loans by selling Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs that borrowers would have to refinance in order to avoid payment shock. Countrywide knew that borrowers who could not afford the inevitable payment increase on such loans and who were unable to refinance would be at great risk of losing their homes.
115. Countrywide provided lists of existing customers to its loan officers responsible for outbound marketing. Defendants’ loan officers hounded Countrywide customers by phone, mail, and electronic mail with refinance loan offers. For example, [Redacted description of Countrywide’s marketing plans for soliciting existing Countrywide customers to refinance.] FSLD “leads” – telephone numbers for existing, eligible customers – were uploaded into a telemarketing database on a weekly basis.
116. Countrywide even solicited customers who were having trouble making payments or facing foreclosure, without regard to the risk that the customer would default on Pay Option and Hybrid ARM refinance loans. FSLD solicited existing prime customers who had “recurring” missed payments. Countrywide required its customer service representatives to market refinance loans to borrowers who called with questions, including borrowers who were behind on their monthly payments or facing foreclosure.
117. Countrywide also solicited existing customers on other occasions, including on their annual loan “anniversaries” (see paragraph 111, above) and shortly before a rate or payment was to reset on Pay Option or Hybrid ARMs, without regard to whether the loan had a prepayment penalty period that had not yet expired. In doing so, the Countrywide Defendants refinanced borrowers while the prepayment penalty on their prior Countrywide loan was still in effect, often concealing the existence of the prepayment penalty.
118. Countrywide claims that approximately 60% of FSLD’s business has been comprised of refinancing Countrywide loans.
C. Countrywide Misled Borrowers About the True Terms of Pay Option and Hybrid ARM Loans by Focusing the Borrowers’ Attention on Low Beginning Payments and Teaser Rates

119. Because Pay Option ARM and Hybrid ARMs start with lower monthly payments and interest rates than most other types of loan products, and given their complex nature, Countrywide was able to easily sell such loans to borrowers by focusing on the initial low monthly payments and/or rates and by obscuring or misrepresenting the true risks of such loans.
120. With respect to Pay Option ARMs, the crux of Countrywide’s sales approach was to “sell the payment.” When presenting a borrower with various loan options, for example, Countrywide would “sell the payment” by showing the borrower the minimum monthly payments for the Pay Option ARM in comparison to other loan products with larger payments. Then, Countrywide would ask which payment the borrower preferred without discussing other differences between the loan products. Naturally, in this situation, most borrowers chose the option with the lowest payment, the Pay Option ARM, without realizing that the payment would
last for only a short time before it would begin to increase.
121. If, instead, Countrywide presented the Pay Option ARM as the only option, it would “sell the payment” by emphasizing the low minimum payment and how much the borrower would “save” every month by making such a low payment, without discussing the payment shock and negative amortization that inevitably result when borrowers make minimum payments. Given the complexity of Pay Option ARMs, such a presentation easily misled borrowers regarding the long-term affordability of their loans.
122. Countrywide also represented that the initial monthly payment would last for the entire term of the loan, or for some period longer than that provided for by the loan’s terms.
123. Countrywide engaged in similar deceptive representations with respect to Hybrid
ARMs. For example, Countrywide focused its sales presentation on the interest-only payments during the initial fixed-rate period, i.e. the 2-year period on a 2/28 ARM or the 3-year period on a 3/27 ARM, not on how the payment would adjust to include both principal and interest after the initial fixed-rate period. It also represented that the payments would last for the entire term of the loan, or for some period longer than that provided for by the loan’s terms.
124. When selling Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, Countrywide engaged in another deceptive practice – rather than selling the payment, it would sell the rate. Countrywide either focused exclusively on the initial one-month, two-year, or three-year “fixed” interest rate, for example, without discussing that the rate would reset after the initial period to a potentially much higher rate, or it represented that the initial interest rate would last for a much longer period than it actually did or for the entire term of the loan.
125. Countrywide’s letter and e-mail solicitations, as well as telemarketing calls, also focused borrowers’ attention on short-term low monthly payments. FSLD loan officers, for example, were required to memorize scripts that marketed low monthly payments by focusing (a) on the potential customer’s dissatisfaction with his or her current monthly payments under his or her current mortgage loan and/or (b) on so-called “savings” that result from minimum monthly payments. As just one of many potential examples, to overcome a borrower’s claim that he or she already has a loan with a low interest rate, Countrywide required FSLD loan officers to memorize the following response: “I certainly understand how important that is to you. But let me ask you something . . . . Which would you rather have, a long-term fixed payment, or a short term one that may allow you to realize several hundred dollars a month in savings? I am able to help many of my clients lower their monthly payments and it only takes a few minutes over the phone to get started.” What the FSLD loan officer did not state was that the borrowers would, in
fact, not save money because the payment on the new loan would ultimately exceed the payment on the borrower’s current loan.
126. Borrowers subjected to any of the deceptive marketing practices described above would not understand the true risks and likely unaffordability of their Pay Option or Hybrid ARMs. Many borrowers did not read their loan documents and disclosures before signing. Countrywide often made borrowers sign a large stack of documents without providing the borrower with time to read them. Other borrowers were unable to read English. And, given the
complexity of Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, many borrowers who managed to read their loan documents did not understand the terms of the loans they were being sold.
127. As a result, many borrowers who obtained Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs did not understand that their initial monthly payment would at some point “explode,” that their initial interest rate would increase and become adjustable, or that the principal amount of their loans could actually increase. Countrywide received numerous complaints regarding these practices from consumers, including over complaints per year handled by the alone between approximately January 2005 and August 2007. Many borrowers complainted that they did not understand the terms of their Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, including the potential magnitude of changes to their monthly payments, interest rates, or loan balances. Many borrowers also complained that Countrywide’s loan officers either did not tell them about the payment or rate increases on such loans or promised that they would have fixed-rate, fixed payment loans, rather than adjustable rate mortgage loans with increasing payments.
128. Despite these complaints, Defendants did not alter their deceptive marketing practices and did not address the hardship created by their practice of making Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs with little or no regard to affordability. Defendants cared only about doing whatever it took to sell increasing numbers of loans.
D. Countrywide Misled Borrowers About their Ability to Refinance Before The
Rates or Payments on Their Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs Increased

129. If a borrower was able to figure out that he or she had obtained a Pay Option or Hybrid ARM before signing the loan documents, he or she may still have been misled by Countrywide in another way – Countrywide’s loan officers often overcame borrower concerns about exploding monthly payments or increasing interest rates by promising that they would be able to refinance with Countrywide into a loan with more affordable terms before the payments or rate reset.
130. Countrywide often represented that the value of a borrower’s home would increase, thus creating enough equity to obtain a loan with better terms. However, borrowers with interest-only or negatively amortizing loans that encumbered as much as, if not more than, 100% of their home’s appraised value, were highly unlikely to be able to refinance into another loan if their home did not increase in value. Additionally, any consumers who sought to refinance a Countrywide mortgage would likely incur a substantial prepayment penalty, thus limiting their ability to obtain a more favorable loan.
131. Countrywide loan officers often misrepresented or obfuscated the fact that a borrower’s loan had a prepayment penalty or misrepresented that a prepayment penalty could be waived. Countrywide also promised borrowers that they would have no problem refinancing their Pay Option or Hybrid ARMs, when in fact they might have difficulty refinancing due to the existence of prepayment penalties. Prepayment penalties on Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs essentially prevent many borrowers from refinancing such unaffordable loans before their payments explode or rates reset.
132. Countrywide received numerous complaints from borrowers who claimed that they had not been told about the prepayment penalty or that the loan officer promised they would not have one. Again, despite receiving such complaints, Defendants turned a blind eye to deceptive marketing practices regarding prepayment penalties and the resulting adverse financial consequences to borrowers.

E. Countrywide Misled Borrowers About the Cost of Reduced and No Document Loans

133. Countrywide touted its low documentation requirements, urging borrowers to get “fastrack” loans so that they could get cash more quickly. However, many borrowers who obtained these loans possessed sufficient documentation to qualify for full document mortgages, and some submitted that documentation to their loan officer or to one of Countrywide’s business partner brokers. In emphasizing the ease, speed and availability of reduced or no document loans, Countrywide and its brokers concealed the fact that borrowers could qualify for a lower rate or reduced fees if they elected to apply for a mortgage by fully documenting their income and assets.
F. Countrywide Misled Borrowers Regarding the Terms of HELOCs
134. Countrywide misrepresented the terms of HELOCs, including without limitation by failing to inform the borrower that he or she would not have access to additional credit because he or she was receiving a full draw or that the monthly payment on the HELOC was interest-only and the borrower therefore would not be able to draw additional funds on the HELOC at a later date.
135. Countrywide also misrepresented or obfuscated the payment shock that borrowers would experience after the interest-only payment period on the HELOCs ended. Countrywide’s Call Center received large numbers of calls from borrowers complaining that they did not understand that the payments on their full-draw HELOCs would only cover interest, or that the interest rates on their HELOCs would adjust and increase.


136. Despite touting itself as a lender that cared about its borrowers, Countrywide was, in essence, a mass production loan factory set up to produce an ever-increasing stream of loans without regard to borrowers’ ability to repay their loans and sustain homeownership. In order to provide an endless supply of loans for sale to the secondary market, Defendants pressured Countywide employees involved in the sale and processing of loans to produce as many loans as possible, as quickly as possible, and at the highest prices.
137. Defendants created this pressure through a compensation system, which predictably led employees to disregard Countrywide’s minimal underwriting guidelines and to originate loans without regard to their sustainability. Countrywide’s compensation system also motivated its loan officers to engage in the deceptive marketing practices described in the preceding sections.
138. Defendants incentivized managers to place intense pressure on the employees they supervised to sell as many loans as possible, as quickly as possible, at the highest prices possible. Branch managers received commissions or bonuses based on the net profits and loan volume generated by their branches. In most circumstances, however, branch managers were eligible for such commissions or bonuses only if . [Redacted descriptions regarding minimum requirements for commission or bonus eligibility.] Branch managers were also rewarded for meeting production goals set by corporate management, – or penalized for failing to do so. [Redacted description of the criteria Countrywide used to adjust branch managers’ commissions or bonuses.]
139. Countrywide provided branch managers with access to computer applications and databases that allowed them to monitor loan sales on a daily basis and pressure employees to “sell, sell, sell.” A branch manager could input the type of loan (such as a Pay Option ARM), and determine what price a borrower would pay for that loan, as well as the amount of profit the loan would likely generate for the branch. Branch managers could also monitor their branches’ loan sales performance by tracking loans that were in the process of being underwritten and the prices and characteristics of loans sold by the branch and by particular loan officers, during any specified time period.
140. With such tools available, Countrywide’s branch managers were able to constantly pressure loan officers, loan processors, and underwriters to do their part in increasing loan production – by hunting down more borrowers, selling more loans, and processing loans as quickly as possible, thereby boosting loan production, branch profits, and branch manager commissions and bonuses. This high-pressure sales environment invited deceptive sales practices and created incentives for retail branch managers, other managers, loan officers, loan specialists, and underwriters to jam loans through underwriting without regard to borrower ability to repay.
141. Countrywide created additional pressure to engage in deceptive marketing practices and sell loans without regard to their sustainability by paying its loan officers and managers a modest base salary that could be supplemented by commissions or bonuses. In most circumstances, the employees were eligible to receive these commissions or bonuses only if they, or the employees they supervised, sold a minimum number or dollar volume of loans.
142. Not only did this compensation system create incentives for employees to sell as many loans as possible, as quickly as possible, it also created incentives for retail employees to steer borrowers into riskier loans. For example, Countrywide paid greater commissions and bonuses to CMD managers and loan officers for selling . [Redacted description of loan products.] Countrywide also paid greater commissions and bonuses to FSLD managers and loan officers for [Redacted description of loan products.]
143. Countrywide’s compensation system also created incentives for wholesale loan officers to steer brokers and their clients into riskier loans. Countrywide’s wholesale loan officers worked one-on-one with “business partner” brokers approved by Countrywide. The loan officers cultivated relationships with brokers in order to persuade them to bring their business to Countrywide and, in particular, to work with a particular loan officer so that he or she, and his or her managers, could earn greater commissions. [Redacted description of compensation paid by Countrywide for the sale of particular loan products.]
144. Countrywide’s compensation system also rewarded employees for selling . [Redacted description of compensation paid by Countrywide for the sale of particular loan products.]
145. Countrywide’s high-pressure sales environment and compensation system encouraged serial refinancing of Countrywide loans. The retail compensation systems created incentives for loan officers to churn the loans of borrowers to whom they had previously sold loans, without regard to a borrower’s ability to repay, and with the consequence of draining equity from borrowers’ homes. Although Countrywide maintained a policy that discouraged loan officers from refinancing Countrywide loans within a short time period after the original loan funded (Countrywide often changed this time period, which was as low as months for some loan products), loan officers boosted their loan sales by targeting the easiest group of potential borrowers to locate – Countrywide borrowers – as soon as that period expired.
146. Countrywide management at all levels pressured the employees below them to sell and approve more loans, at the highest prices, as quickly as possible, in order to maximize Countrywide’s profits on the secondary market. Defendant Sambol, for example, monitored Countrywide’s loan production numbers and pressured employees involved in selling loans or supervising them to produce an ever-increasing numbers of loans, faster. Regional vice presidents pressured branch managers to increase their branches’ loan numbers. Branch managers pressured loan officers to produce more loans, faster, and often set their own branch level production quotas.
147. Underwriters were also pressured to approve greater numbers of loans quickly and to overlook underwriting guidelines while doing so. Defendant Sambol pressured underwriters to increase their loan production and to increase approval rates by relaxing underwriting criteria. Regional operations vice presidents, branch operations managers, branch managers, and loan officers all pressured underwriters to rush loan approvals. Countrywide required underwriters to meet loan processing quotas and paid bonuses to underwriters who exceeded them.
148. Customer service representatives at Countrywide’s Call Center also were expected to achieve quotas and received bonuses for exceeding them. Countrywide required service representatives to complete calls in three minutes or less, and to complete as many as sixty-five to eighty-five calls per day. Although three minutes is not sufficient time to assist the confused or distressed borrowers who contacted them, Countrywide required service representatives to market refinance loans or piggyback HELOCs to borrowers who called with questions — including borrowers who were behind on their monthly payments or facing foreclosure. Using a script, the service representatives were required to pitch the loan and transfer the caller to the appropriate Countrywide division. Service representatives also received bonuses for loans that were so referred and funded.
149. Countrywide employees from senior management down to branch managers pressured the employees below them to sell certain kinds of products. Regional vice presidents, area managers, and branch managers pushed loan officers to sell Pay Option ARMs, piggyback HELOCs, and loans with prepayment penalties, primarily because such loans boosted branch profits, manager commissions, and Countrywide’s profits on the secondary market.
150. If any of these employees, including branch managers, loan officers, loan processors, underwriters, and customer service representatives, failed to produce the numbers expected, Countrywide terminated their employment.

151. In California, a mortgage broker owes his or her client a fiduciary duty. A mortgage broker is customarily retained by a borrower to act as the borrower’s agent in negotiating an acceptable loan. All persons engaged in this business in California are required to obtain real estate licenses and to comply with statutory requirements. Among other things, the mortgage broker has an obligation to make a full and accurate disclosure of the terms of a loan to borrowers, particularly those that might affect the borrower’s decision, and to act always in the utmost good faith toward the borrower and to refrain from obtaining any advantage over the borrower.
152. Countrywide paid brokers compensation in the form of yield spread premiums or rebates to induce brokers to place borrowers in loans that would earn Countrywide the greatest profit on the secondary market, regardless of whether the loans were in the best interest of, or appropriate for, the borrowers. In fact, the mortgages that earned Countrywide the highest profit, and therefore would pay the highest rebates or yield spread premiums to brokers, often were not in the best interest of the borrower.
153. For example, Countrywide paid a yield spread premium to brokers if a loan was made at a higher interest rate than the rate for which the borrower qualified and without regard for the services actually provided by the broker. Countrywide paid a rebate to a broker if he or she originated or negotiated a loan that included a prepayment penalty. A three-year prepayment penalty resulted in a higher rebate to the broker than a one-year prepayment penalty. Countrywide would pay this higher rebate even in instances where the loan did not include a provision, such as a more favorable origination fee or interest rate, to counterbalance the prepayment penalty, and where brokers did not perform any additional services in connection with the loan.
154. Countrywide also would pay rebates in exchange for a broker providing an adjustable rate loan with a high margin (the amount added to the index to determine the interest rate). Countrywide would provide an additional rebate to brokers if they were able to induce a borrower to obtain a line of credit.
155. Countrywide accepted loans from brokers in which the broker earned up to points (i.e., percent of the amount of the loan), whether in origination fees, rebates, or yield spread premiums. This high level of compensation was well in excess of the industry norm and encouraged brokers to sell Countrywide loans without regard to whether the loans were in their clients’ best interest. In addition, the compensation paid by Countrywide to brokers was well in excess of, and not reasonably related to, the value of the brokerage services performed by Countrywide’s business partner brokers.
156. In order to maximize their compensation from Countrywide, brokers misled borrowers about the true terms of Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, misled borrowers about their ability to refinance before the rates or payments on their loans increased, misled borrowers about the cost of reduced and no document loans, and misled borrowers regarding the terms of HELOCs by engaging in the same kinds of deceptive practices alleged at paragraphs 58 through 64, 75 through 77, 108 through 117, and 119 through 135 above.
157. Borrowers often did not realize that their loans contained terms that were unfavorable to them and provided greater compensation to their brokers specifically as payment for those unfavorable terms. An origination fee or other charges imposed by a broker are either

paid by the borrower or financed as part of the loan. In contrast, rebates and yield spread premiums are not part of the principal of the loan and instead are paid separately by Countrywide to the broker. Documentation provided to the borrower might indicate, at most, that a yield spread premium or rebate was paid outside of closing (often delineated as “p.o.c.” or “ysp poc”), with no indication that the payment constituted compensation from Countrywide to the broker for placing the borrower in a loan with terms that were not in the borrower’s best interest, such as a higher interest rate or lengthier prepayment penalty.
158. Countrywide closely monitored and controlled the brokers with whom it worked. Countrywide required brokers it accepted as “business partners” to cooperate and provide all information, documents and reports it requested so that Countrywide could conduct a review of the broker and its operations. In addition, Countrywide required the broker to warrant and represent that all loans were closed using documents either prepared or expressly approved by Countrywide.

159. Due to Countrywide’s lack of meaningful underwriting guidelines and risk layering, Countrywide’s deceptive sales tactics, Countrywide’s high-pressure sales environment, and the complex nature of its Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, a large number of Countrywide loans have ended in default and foreclosure, or are headed in that direction. Many of its borrowers have lost their homes, or are facing foreclosure, because they cannot afford the payment shock and their properties are too heavily encumbered for them to be able to refinance and pay prepayment penalties.
160. The national pace of foreclosures is skyrocketing. In the month of May 2008, approximately 20,000 Californians lost their homes to foreclosure, and approximately 72,000 California homes (roughly 1 out of 183 homes) were in default. This represented an 81% increase from May 2007, at which point the rate was roughly 1 out of every 308 households, while the May 2007 rate represented a 350% increase from May 2006.
161. Countrywide mortgages account for a large percentage of these delinquencies and foreclosures. Countrywide’s 10-K filed in February, 2008, estimated that as of December 31, 2007, a staggering 27.29% of its non-prime mortgages were delinquent. As of that date, approximately 26% of Countrywide’s loans were secured by properties located in California.
162. These numbers have only worsened. As of April, 2008, % of the mortgages owned by Countrywide Home Loans were in some stage of delinquency or foreclosure, including % of originated non-prime loans, and % of Pay Option ARMs.
163. In January and March, 2008, Countrywide recorded notices of default in Alameda, Fresno, Riverside, and San Diego counties alone. Those notices of default represented an aggregate total of delinquent principal and interest of more than dollars. An October 2007 report prepared by Credit Suisse estimated that Countrywide’s delinquency and foreclosure rates are likely to double over the next two years.
164. This may well understate the extent of the crisis facing California homeowners with Countrywide mortgages, as more and more Pay Option ARMs go into delinquency. Approximately 60% of all Pay Option ARMs (made by any lender) were made in California, and many of these were made by Countrywide. Once the thousands of Pay Option ARMs sold by Countrywide to California borrowers reach their negative amortization cap or otherwise reset to require fully indexed principal and interest payments, which will occur over the next two years for many such loans made between 2003 and 2006, the number of such loans in default is likely to skyrocket even above their current high delinquency rate.
165. The People reallege and incorporate by reference all paragraphs above, as though fully set forth in this cause of action.
166. Defendants have violated and continue to violate Business and Professions Code section 17500 by making or disseminating untrue or misleading statements, or by causing untrue or misleading statements to be made or disseminated, in or from California, with the intent to induce members of the public to enter into mortgage loan or home equity line of credit transactions secured by their primary residences. These untrue and misleading statements include but are not necessarily limited to:
a. Statements that Countrywide was a mortgage loan expert that could be
trusted to help borrowers obtain mortgage loans that were appropriate to their financial circumstances, as described in paragraphs 109 through 113, above;
b. Statements regarding the terms and payment obligations of Pay Option
ARMs offered by Countrywide, including statements that the initial payment rate was the interest rate, statements regarding the duration of the initial payment, statements regarding the duration of the initial interest rate, and statements obfuscating the risks associated with such mortgage loans, as described in paragraphs 58 through 64, 119 through 122, and 124 through 128, above;
c. Statements regarding the terms and payment obligations of Hybrid ARMs
offered by Countrywide, including statements regarding the duration of the initial interest-only payment, statements regarding the duration of the initial interest rate, and statements obfuscating the risks associated with such mortgage loans, as described in paragraphs 75 through 77, 119, and 123 through 128, above;
d. Statements regarding the terms and payment obligations of HELOCs, as described in paragraphs 134 through 135, above; and
e. Statements that borrowers with Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs offered by Countrywide would be able to refinance the mortgage loans before the interest rates reset, when in fact they most likely could not, as described in paragraphs 62, 76, 77, and 129 through 132, above;
f. Statements regarding prepayment penalties on Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs offered by Countrywide, including statements that the mortgage loans did not have prepayment penalties, when in fact they did, and statements that prepayment penalties could be waived, when in fact they could not, as described in paragraphs 63, 64, 76, and 131 through 132, above;
g. Statements regarding the costs of reduced or no documentation mortgage loans, as described in paragraph 133, above;
h. Statements regarding the benefits or advisability of refinancing mortgage loans with Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs offered by Countrywide, as described in paragraphs 110 through 118, above; and
i. Statements regarding the existence of prepayment penalties on mortgage loans being refinanced with Countrywide mortgage loans, as described in paragraph 117, above.
167. Defendants knew, or by the exercise of reasonable care should have known, that these statements were untrue or misleading at the time they were made.


168. The People reallege and incorporate by reference all paragraphs above, as through fully set forth in this cause of action.
169. Defendants have engaged in, and continue to engage in, acts or practices that constitute unfair competition, as that term is defined in Section 17200 of the Business and Professions Code. Such acts or practices include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Creating and maintaining a deceptive scheme to mass produce loans for sale on the secondary market, as described in paragraphs 15 through 164, above;
b. Making untrue or misleading representations that Countrywide could be trusted to sell borrowers mortgage loans that were appropriate to their financial circumstances, as described in paragraphs 109 through 113, above;
c. Making untrue or misleading representations regarding the terms and payment obligations of Countrywide’s Pay Option and Hybrid ARMs, including representations regarding the payment rate, the duration of initial interest rates, the duration of initial monthly payments, the inclusion of prepayment penalties, the waivability of prepayment penalties, the payment shock that borrowers were likely to experience, and the risks associated with such mortgage loans, as described in paragraphs 58 through 64, 75 through 77, and 119 through 132, above;
d. Making untrue or misleading representations regarding the terms and payment obligations of Countrywide’s HELOCs, as described in paragraphs 134 through 135, above;
e. Making untrue or misleading representations regarding the costs of reduced or no documentation mortgage loans, as described in paragraph 133, above;
f. Making untrue or misleading representations regarding the true likelihood or circumstances under which borrowers would be able to refinance Pay Option or Hybrid ARMs offered by Countrywide, as described in paragraphs 62, 76, 77, and 129 through 132, above;
g. Soliciting borrowers to refinance mortgage loans by misrepresenting the benefits of doing so or by misrepresnting or obfuscating the fact that in doing so the borrowers will incur a prepayment penalty, as described in paragraphs 110 through 118, above;
h. Making mortgage loans and extending HELOCs without regard to whether
borrowers would be able to afford monthly payments on those loans or HELOCs after the expiration of the initial interest rates on the mortgage loans, or the draw periods on the HELOCs, as described in paragraphs 85 through 107, above;
i. Aiding and abetting the breach of the fiduciary duty owed by mortgage brokers to California borrowers, as described in paragraphs 151 through 158, above;
j. Failing to provide borrowers with documents sufficient to inform them of their payment obligations with respect to fully drawn HELOCs, as described in paragraphs 81 through 84, above;
k. Paying compensation to mortgage brokers that was not reasonably related to the value of the brokerage services they performed, as described in paragraphs 152 through 155, above; and
l. Violating Section 17500 of the Business and Professions Code, as described in the First Cause of Action, above.
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays for judgment as follows:
1. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17535, that all Defendants, their employees, agents, representatives, successors, assigns, and all persons who act in concert with them be permanently enjoined from making any untrue or misleading statements in violation of Business and Professions Codes section 17500, including the untrue or misleading statements alleged in the First Cause of Action.
2. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17203, that all Defendants, their employees, agents, representatives, successors, assigns, and all persons who act in concert with them be permanently enjoined from committing any acts of unfair competition, including the violations alleged in the Second Cause of Action.
3. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code sections 17535, that the Court make such orders or judgments as may be necessary to prevent the use or employment by any Defendant of any practices which violate section 17500 of the Business and Professions Code, or which may be necessary to restore to any person in interest any money or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired by means of any such practice.
4. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17203, that this court make such orders or judgments as may be necessary to prevent the use or employment by any Defendant of any practice which constitutes unfair competition or as may be necessary to restore
to any person in interest any money or property, real or personal, which may have been acquired
by means of such unfair competition.
5. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17536, that Defendants, and each of them, be ordered to pay a civil penalty in the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation of Business and Professions Code section 17500 by Defendants, in an amount according to proof.
6. Pursuant to Business and Professions Code section 17206, that Defendants, and each of them, be ordered to pay a civil penalty in the amount of two thousand five hundred dollars ($2,500) for each violation of Business and Professions Code section 17200 by Defendants, in an amount according to proof.
7. That Plaintiff recover its costs of suit, including costs of investigation.
8. For such other and further relief that the Court deems just, proper, and equitable.

Dated: December 30, 2008 THE LAW OFFICES OF

By _____________________________
Timothy McCandless, Attorney for Plaintiffs

Countrywide and truth in predatory lending


California v Countrywide


Beating Foreclosure legally

Facing Foreclosure in California?
The number of Foreclosures in California and across the Nation are on the rise. If you are facing foreclosure in California we can help. The foreclosure relief department at McCandless Firm, is comprised of a dedicated team of highly trained professionals, attorneys, underwriters, and brokers in the mortgage and loan industry. Our team will work diligently with your lender and/or invoke Federal Court Remedies to facilitate a solution that fits your budget and goals. The following are the most common ways we assist homeowners facing foreclosure.
Mortgage Modification:
The Mortgage Modification program allows most homeowners who can make payments keep their homes. Often, personal circumstances or an upward payment adjustment or “reset” will cause the homeowner to fall behind n their monthly payments. By actively counseling our clients and aggressively negotiating with their lenders we are capable of modifying the original loan to give our clients a fresh start in managing their home finances. Depending upon the individual needs of each client, modifications can range from a simple interest rate reduction resulting in a lower monthly payment to what is known as a “recapitalization agreement.” A recapitalization agreement takes all the “arrears” or monthly amounts that should have been paid but wasn’t paid, interest, fees, and missed payments and adds it to the principal of the mortgage loan. In many instances, we will negotiate the complete removal of principal above the current fair market value and “arrears”. Finally, we may be able to extend the life of your loan so that your payments are more easily manageable. This is a unique department of McCandless Law Firm that can be reach directly at (760) 733-8885
Lien Stripping:
The lien stripping program is available for individuals desiring to reorganize their debt using Federal Laws under Title 11 of the United States Code. The mortgage removal program can only be used in the context of a reorganization, often referred to as Chapter 13(see below). If you own a home with more than one mortgage, you may be able to completely remove or “avoid” the second and subsequent junior mortgages from your home and county records, thus leaving only the first original mortgage! If you qualify, all mortgages except the first would no longer be secured by your home, and you would stop all payments except the first immediately. There is nothing the creditor can do, provided you qualify for a simpe three part test: 1) The First Mortgage is equal to or higher than the fair market value of the home, 2) You have income, and 3) Your total unsecured debt is under 336,900 and your secured debt is under 1,010,650.
As of 2002, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in In Re: Sieglinde E Zimmer, that these mortgages on residential properties can removed if you qualify. In today’s declining real estate market, this ruling pretty much allows junior lien removal on most properties bought or refinanced since 2004. For instance, suppose you have a first mortgage of $500,000 and second mortgage of $150,000, and the house is worth $490,000.00. Under this program, the $150,000 gets removed and you only need to make monthly payments on the $500,000.
Wouldnt it be much easier to save your home if you only had a first mortgage and no other payments? Moreover, if the market turns around, think of all the equity you could build back up years from now.
Chapter 13 Reorganization:
The Chapter 13 “Reorganization,” allows you to consolidate all your debts into one low monthly payment. The payment amount is tailored to your budget. Chapter 13 is technically a Bankruptcy, but viewed at differently since it is not a “straight bankruptcy” which simply eliminates all debt without any payment whatsoever. Instead, it consolidates all missed mortgage payments or “arrears” and then spreads the repayment out over 3-5 years. The net result is that your mortgage is legally reinstated by Federal Court Order and you continue to make your normal mortgage payments. The lender is also under strict scrutiny to account to the Federal Court any fees they attempt to assert over your normal mortgage payments. For example, if you are $9,000 in arrears on your mortgage and your monthly mortgage payment is currently $3,000, your Chapter 13 payment would be approximately $150 per month. (60 months x $150 =$9,000) The new total monthly house payment would be $3,150. The Chapter 13 program results in a more realistic repayment plan than the short term plans currently offered by most lender outside of the laws under Title 11, and you maintain all your rights under TILA, RESPA, HOEPA, FDCPA, FCRA, etc.
Short Sale:
With our short sale program we are able to market and sell your property for at or below market value even though you may owe substantially more than that on the mortgage(s). A short sale will not only stop the foreclosure but will prevent the adverse credit implications associated with a foreclosure. If the short sale is done in conjunction with a bankruptcy filing the results are even more beneficial to the homeowner. Not only will the tax consequences be completely eliminated, but any shortage or “deficiency” will be discharged in the bankruptcy. The sale is generally easier to do since the lender knows there is no longer any personal recourse against the homeowner. Finally, with the filing of the bankruptcy, you are generally able to extend the length of time remaining in the property. Its not uncommon to remain a year of longer in your property without paying using a short sale combined with a bankruptcy.
Equity Recoupment:
The Equity Recoupment program allows our clients to recoup what they may have lost as a result of predatory lending and the current mortgage crisis. Strategically, by using a combination of the above programs and state consumer protection laws, McCandless Law Firm developed and pioneered a program that allows homeowners to legally remain in their home for 8-12 months or even years without making a single payment! Though it may sound to good to be true, the program is rooted in both California and Federal consumer protection statutes and the civil code, and the illegal shortcuts lenders have been taking over the past decade. Many homeowners are not aware of the vast state and federal laws that have been created over the last 20 years to address the very issues we are facing today with widespread foreclosures and predatory lending. For example if your monthly payment is $3,000 per month, in 8 months you will recoup $24,000, in 16 months that is nearly $50,000. Your recoupment will continue to grow the longer we are able to keep you in your home.
Deed In Lieu of Foreclosure:
If you are behind on your monthly mortgager payments and are unable to sell your home at the current market value, a deed in lieu of foreclosure may be an option to prevent a foreclosure from tarnishing your credit. The process involves giving the property directly back to the lender, or “deeding it back in lieu of foreclosure.” The lender benefits as they are able to mitigate the additional losses they would incur from having to proceed with a lengthy foreclosure. Often times the lender will offer this option at the onset of a foreclosure proceeding, however in our experiences lenders will seldom follow through and effectuate the transfer without Attorney intervention. By stepping in and advocating for our clients we are able to 1) Get the homeowner released from most or all of the personal indebtedness associated with the defaulted loan 2) Prevent the homeowner from experiencing the public notoriety of a foreclosure and subsequent credit implications, and 3) Put money in our client’s pocket via “Cash for Keys”. Though it may appear to be a viable means of walking from your home unscathed, it is a complicated process requiring competent legal and tax advice.
Resource Links on Foreclosure:

Advanced Reading: