The Confusion Over Consideration: If they didn’t pay for it, they have nothing against the property

There have been multiple questions directed at me over the issue of consideration arising from presumptions made about a note and mortgage that appear to be facially valid. Those presumptions are rebuttable and indeed in many cases would be rebutted by the actual facts. That is why asserting the right defenses is so important to set the foundation for discovery.

The cases thrown at me usually relate to adequacy of consideration. Some relate wrongly to Article 3 as to enforcement of the note. I agree that enforcement of the note is easier than enforcement of the mortgage. But that is the point. If they really want the property even a questionable holder of the note might be able to get a civil judgment and that judgment might result in a lien against the property and it might even be foreclosed if the property is not homestead. That is how we protect creditors and property owners. To enforce the mortgage, the claim must be much stronger — it must be filed by a party who actually has the risk of loss because they paid for it.

One case just sent to me is a 2000 case 4th DCA in Florida. Ahmad v Cobb. 762 So 2d 944. The quote I lifted out of that case which was presented to me as though it contradicted my position is the most revealing:

“First, there is no doubt that Ahmad, as the assignee of the Resolution Trust Corporation, owned the rights to the Cobb Corner, Inc. note and mortgage and to the guarantees securing those obligations. He obtained a partial

[762 So.2d 947]

summary judgment which fixed the validity, priority and extent of his debt. Any questions as to the adequacy of the consideration he paid were settled in that ruling.

That is your answer. The time to contest consideration is best done before judgment when you don’t need to prove fraud by clear and convincing evidence. We are also not challenging adequacy of consideration — except that if it recites $10 and other value consideration for a $500,000 loan it casts doubt as to whether the third leg of the stool is actually present — offer, acceptance and consideration. People tend to forget that this is essentially contract law and the contract for loan is no exception to the laws of contract.

We are challenging whether there was any consideration at all because I already know there was none. There couldn’t be. The consideration flowed directly from the investors to the borrower. That is the line of sight of the debt, in most cases.

The closing agent mistakenly or intentionally applied funds from a third party who was not disclosed on the settlement documents. Without receiving any money from the “originator”, the closing agent proceeded to get the signature from the borrower promising to pay the originator when it was a third party who gave the closing agent the funds. If this was a “warehouse loan” in which the originator was borrowing the money with a risk of loss and the liability to pay it back then the originator is a proper party and any assignments from the originator would be valid — if they were supported by consideration. Some loans do fit that criteria but most do not.

I repeat that this is not an attempt to get out of the debt altogether. It is an attack on the note and mortgage because the actual terms of repayment were either never agreed between the investors and the borrowers or are as set forth in the PSA and NOT the note and mortgage.

If the third party (source of funds) is NOT in privity with the originator (which is the structure we are dealing with because the broker dealers wanted to shield themselves from liability for violating fair lending laws) then the closing agent should have obtained instructions from the source of funds as to the application of funds wired into escrow. Anyone who didn’t would be an idiot. But most of them, under that definition would qualify. The closing agent would also be wrong to have demanded the signature of the borrower on documents that (a) did not reveal the source of funds and (b) did not contain all the terms of repayment, as recited in the PSA.

The foreclosure crowd is saying the PSA is irrelevant — but only when it suits them. They are saying that the PSA gives them the authority to proceed with foreclosure but that the terms of the PSA are not relevant. That is crazy, but up until now judges have been buying it because they have not been presented with the fact pattern and legal argument that we are asserting.

In summary, we are saying there was NO CONSIDERATION. We are not attacking adequacy of consideration. I am saying there was no actual transaction between the originator and the borrower and there was no actual transaction between the assignor, indorsor, and the assignee or indorsee. Article 9 of the UCC is clear.

The terms of enforcement of a note govern a looser interpretation of when negotiable paper can be enforced. But the terms of a mortgage cannot be enforced by anyone unless they obtain it for value. Value is consideration. We are saying there wasn’t any consideration. Any decision to the contrary is wrong and can be contested with contrary decisions that are all correct and can be found not only in the public records but in treatises.

And this is absolutely necessary. In a mortgage foreclosure or even attachment, the party seeking the forfeiture must show that this forfeiture is necessary to secure repayment of a debt. It must also show that without this forfeiture, it will suffer a loss. In so doing they establish grounds not only for the foreclosure judgment but also for the foreclosure sale.

As pointed out in the above case, the creditor is the one who submits a creditor’s bid by definition. If the party bringing the action cannot satisfy the elements of a creditor in real money terms, then they are not permitted to bid anything other than cash. Allowing a party who did not acquire the mortgage rights for value would enable strangers to the transaction to acquire property for free, except the costs of litigation. Thus the “free house” argument is specious. It is a distraction from the real facts as to who is getting a free house.

BONY Objections to Discovery Rejected

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It has been my contention all along that these cases ought to end in the discovery process with some sort of settlement — money damages, modification, short-sale, hardest hit fund programs etc. But the only way the homeowner can get honest terms is if they present a credible threat to the party seeking foreclosure. That threat is obvious when the Judge issues an order compelling discovery to proceed and rejecting arguments for protective orders, (over-burdensome, relevance etc.). It is a rare bird that a relevance objection to discovery will be sustained.

Once the order is entered and the homeowner is free to inquire about all the mechanics of transfer of her loan, the opposition is faced with revelations like those which have recently been discovered with the Wells Fargo manual that apparently is an instruction manual on how to commit document fraud — or the Urban Lending Solutions and Bank of America revelations about how banks have scripted and coerced their employees to guide homeowners into foreclosure so that questions of the real owner of the debt and the real balance of the debt never get to be scrutinized. Or, as we have seen repeatedly, what is revealed is that the party seeking a foreclosure sale as “creditor” or pretender lender is actually a complete stranger to the transaction — meaning they have no ties i to any transaction record, and no privity through any chain of documentation.

Attorneys and homeowners should take note that there are thousands upon thousands of cases being settled under seal of confidentiality. You don’t hear about those because of the confidentiality agreement. Thus what you DO hear about is the tangle of litigation as things heat up and probably the number of times the homeowner is mowed down on the rocket docket. This causes most people to conclude that what we hear about is the rule and that the settlements are the exception. I obviously do not have precise figures. But I do have comparisons from surveys I have taken periodically. I can say with certainty that the number of settlements, short-sales and modifications that are meaningful to the homeowner is rising fast.

In my opinion, the more aggressive the homeowner is in pursuing discovery, the higher the likelihood of winning the case or settling on terms that are truly satisfactory to the homeowner. Sitting back and waiting to see if the other side does something has been somewhat successful in the past but it results in a waiver of defenses that if vigorously pursued would or could result in showing the absence of a default, the presence of third party payments lowering the current payments due, the principal balance and the dollar amount of interest owed. If you don’t do that then your entire case rests upon the skill of the attorney in cross examining a witness and then disqualifying or challenging the testimony or documents submitted. Waiting to the last minute substantially diminishes the likelihood of a favorable outcome.

What is interesting in the case below is that the bank is opposing the notices of deposition based upon lack of personal knowledge. I would have pressed them to define what they mean by personal knowledge to use it against them later. But in any event, the Judge correctly stated that none of the objections raised by BONY were valid and that their claims regarding the proper procedure to set the depositions were also bogus.

tentative ruling 3-17-14

Damages Rising: Wrongful Foreclosure Costs Wells Fargo $3.2 Million

Damage awards for wrongful foreclosure are rising across the country. In New Mexico a judge issued a $3.2 million judgment (including $2.7 million in punitive damages) against Wells Fargo for foreclosing on a man’s home after his death even though he had an insurance policy through the bank that paid the remaining balance on his mortgage. The balance “owed” on the mortgage was $125,000. Despite the fact that the bank knew about the insurance (because it was purchased through the bank) Wells Fargo continued to pursue foreclosure, ignoring the claim for insurance. It is because of cases like this that people are asking “why would they do that?”

The answer is what I’ve been saying for years.  Where a loan is subject to claims of securitization, and the investment banks lied to insurers, investors, guarantors and other co-obligors, they most likely have been paid many times for the same loan and never gave credit to the investors. By not crediting the investors they created the illusion of a higher balance that was due on the loan. They also created the illusion of a default that probably never occurred. But by pursuing foreclosure and foreclosure sale, they compounded the illusion and avoided claims for refund and repayment received from third parties and created claims for recovery of servicer advances. In many foreclosures that I have  reviewed, payments received from the FDIC under loss-sharing were never taken into account. Thus the bank collects money repeatedly for a loss it never incurred.

This case is another example of why I insist on following the money. By following the money trail you will discover that the documents upon which the foreclosure relies referred to  fictitious transactions. The documents are worthless, but nevertheless accepted in court unless a proper objection is made based upon preserving issues for trial and appeal by proper pleading and discovery.

Lawyers should take note of this profit opportunity. Most homeowners are looking for attorneys to take cases on contingency. Typical contingency fee is 40%. If these lawyers were on a typical contingency fee arrangement, their payday would have been around $1.2 million.

I should add that for every one of these judgments that are reported, I hear about dozens of confidential settlements that are of similar nature, to wit: clear title on the house, damages and attorneys fees.

Wells Fargo Ordered to Pay $3.2 Million for “Shocking” Foreclosure

Discovery and Due Process in California

I produced a memorandum as an expert witness and consultant in litigation support for a lawyer in California that after re-reading it, I think would be helpful in all foreclosure litigation. I have excerpted paragraphs from the memo and I present here for your use.

Plaintiff/Appellant has pre-empted the opposing parties with a lawsuit that seeks to determine with finality the status and ownership of her loan. She has received, in and out of court, conflicting answers to her questions. The Defendant/Appellees continue to stonewall her attempt to get simple answers to simple questions — to whom does she owe money and how much money does she owe after all appropriate credits from payments received by the creditor on her mortgage loan.

 

She does not take the position that money is not owed to anyone. She asserts that the opposing parties to this litigation are unable and unwilling to provide any actual transaction information in which the subject loan was originated, transferred or acquired. If she is right none of them can issue a satisfaction and release of mortgage without further complicating a tortuous chain of title — and none of them had any right to collect any money from her. A natural question arising out of this that Plaintiff/Appellant seeks to answer is who is the creditor and have they been paid? If they have been paid or their agents have been paid, how much were they paid and on what terms if the payments were from third parties who were strangers to the original loan contract between the Plaintiff/Appellant and the apparent originator.

 

She asserts that based upon the limited information available to her that the original debt that arose (by operation of law) when she received the benefits of a loan was mischaracterized from the beginning, and has changed steadily over time. She asserts that the “originator” was a sham nominee and the closing documents were both misrepresented as to the identity of the lender, and incomplete because of the failure to disclose the real terms of a loan that at best would be described as partially represented on a promissory note and partially represented on a certificated or uncertificated “mortgage bond.”

 

Neither the actual lender/investors nor the homeowner/borrower were parties to the contract for lending in which the Plaintiff/Appellant was a real party in interest.  And the homeowner/borrower in this case was not party to the promise to repay issued to the actual lenders (investors) who advanced the money. The investor/lenders were party to a bond indenture, prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement, while the borrower was party to a promissory note and deed of trust. It is only by combining the two —- the bond and the note — that the full terms of the transaction emerge — something that the major banks seek to avoid at all costs.

 

When it suits them they characterize it as one cloud of related transactions in which there is a mysterious logic, and when it suits them otherwise they assert that the transactions and documents are not a cloud at all but rather a succession of unrelated individual transactions. Hence they can foreclose under the cloud theory, but under the theory of individual (step) transactions, they don’t have to account for the receipt of exorbitant compensation through tier 2 yield spread premiums, the receipt of insurance, servicer advances, credit default swaps, over-collateralization, cross collateralization, guarantees and other hedge contracts; under this theory they were not acting as agents for the investors (whom they had already defrauded) when they received payments from third parties who thought that the losses on the bonds and loans were losses of the banks — because those banks selling mortgage bonds, while serving as intermediaries, created the illusion that the trillions of dollars invested in mortgage bonds was actually owned equitably and legally by the banks.

 

Plaintiff/Appellant seeks to resolve this conflict with finality so she can move on with her life and property.

 

 If she is right, several debts arose out of the subject transaction and probably none of them were secured by a valid deed of trust or mortgage. If she is right the issues with her mortgage debt have been mitigated and she can settle that with finality and it is possible that she owes other parties on unsecured debts who made payments on account of this loan, by reason of contracts to which the Plaintiff/Appellant was not a party but which should have been disclosed in the initial loan contract. In simply lay language she wants an accounting from the real creditor who would lose money if they did not receive payment or credit toward the balance due on the loan for principal and interest.

 

If she is wrong, then the loan is merely one debt, secured by a valid deed of trust. But one wonders why the banks have steadfastly stonewalled any attempts to establish this as a simple fact by producing the actual record of transactions and passage of money exchanging hands in real transactions that support any appearance or presumption of validity of the documents that are being used by her opposition to claim the right to collect on the loan that she freely admits occurred. Why did the bank oppose her attempts at discovery before litigation and after litigation began?

 

If she is wrong and no third party payments were made, then the bookkeeping and accounting entries of the opposition would show that the loan was posted as loan receivable, with an appropriate reserve for default on the balance sheet, and there would be an absence of any documentation showing transfer or attempted transfer of the loan to a party who actually was the source of funds for the origination or acquisition of the loan. The same books and records would show an absence of any entries that reduce the balance due on the loan. And the loan file correspondence of the opposition would not have any reference to fees earned for servicing the loan on behalf of a third party and the income statement would have no underlying bookkeeping entries for receiving fees for acting as the lender, acting as the servicer or acting as a trustee.

 

In some ways this is an ordinary case regarding a deprivation of due process in connection with the potential forfeiture of property and present denial of access to the courts. She is left with both an inability to determine the status of her title, whether it is superior to any claim of encumbrance from the recorded deed of trust, the status of the ownership of her loan where she could obtain a satisfaction of mortgage from a party who either was the creditor or properly represented the creditor, or whether her existing claims evolve into other claims under tort or contract — i.e., a consequent forfeiture of potential claims against the Appellant’s opposing party. For example, by denying the Plaintiff/Appellant’s motions to compel discovery, Plaintiff/Appellant was denied access to information that would have either settled the matter or provided Plaintiff/Appellant with the information with which to prove her existing claims and would most likely have revealed further causes of action. The information concerning the ownership status of her loan, and the true balance of her loan is essentially the gravamen of her claim.

 

But if, as she suspects and has alleged, the parties purporting to be the lender or successor to the lender have engaged in no actual transactions in which the loan was originated or acquired, then the claims and documents upon which her opposition relies, are obviously a sham. This in turn prevents her from being able to contact her real lender for satisfaction, refinance, or modification of her loan under any factual scenario — because the parties with whom she is dealing are intentionally withholding information that would enable her to do so. Hence their claims and documents would constitute the basis for slander of title if she is right about the actual status and balance of her loan.

 

Her point is not that this Court should award her a judgment — but only the opportunity to complete discovery that would act as the foundation fro introduction of appropriate testimony and evidence proving her case. The trial court below essentially acted in conflict with itself. While upholding her claims as being sufficient to state causes of action, it denied her the ability to conduct full discovery to prove her claim.

 

Hagar v. Reclamation Dist., 111 U.S. 701, 708 (1884). “Due process of law is [process which], following the forms of law, is appropriate to the case and just to the parties affected. It must be pursued in the ordinary mode prescribed by law; it must be adapted to the end to be attained; and whenever necessary to the protection of the parties, it must give them an opportunity to be heard respecting the justice of the judgment sought. Any legal proceeding enforced by public authority, whether sanctioned by age or custom or newly devised in the discretion of the legislative power, which regards and preserves these principles of liberty and justice, must be held to be due process of law.” Id. at 708; Accord, Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 537 (1884).

685 Twining v. New Jersey, 211 U.S. 78, 101 (1908); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899). “A process of law, which is not otherwise forbidden, must be taken to be due process of law, if it can show the sanction of settled usage both in England and this country.” Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. at 529.

686 Twining, 211 U.S. at 101.

687 Hurtado v. California, 110 U.S. 516, 529 (1884); Brown v. New Jersey, 175 U.S. 172, 175 (1899); Anderson Nat’l Bank v. Luckett, 321 U.S. 233, 244 (1944).

Non-Judicial Proceedings.—A court proceeding is not a requisite of due process.688 Administrative and executive proceedings are not judicial, yet they may satisfy the due process clause.689 Moreover, the due process clause does not require de novo judicial review of the factual conclusions of state regulatory agencies,690 and may not require judicial review at all.691 Nor does the Fourteenth Amendment prohibit a State from conferring judicial functions upon non-judicial bodies, or from delegating powers to a court that are legislative in nature.692 Further, it is up to a State to determine to what extent its legislative, executive, and judicial powers should be kept distinct and separate.693

The Requirements of Due Process.—Although due process tolerates variances in procedure “appropriate to the nature of the case,”694 it is nonetheless possible to identify its core goals and requirements. First, “[p]rocedural due process rules are meant to protect persons not from the deprivation, but from the mistaken or unjustified deprivation of life, liberty, or property.”695 Thus, the required elements of due process are those that “minimize substantively unfair or mistaken deprivations” by enabling persons to contest the basis upon which a State proposes to deprive them of protected interests.696 The core of these requirements is notice and a hearing before an impartial tribunal. Due process may also require an opportunity for confrontation and cross-examination, and for discovery; that a decision be made based on the record, and that a party be allowed to be represented by counsel.

688 Ballard v. Hunter, 204 U.S. 241, 255 (1907); Palmer v. McMahon, 133 U.S. 660, 668 (1890).

 

Insurance and Hedge Proceeds Applied to Loan Balances

One of the more controversial statements I have made is that certain types of payments from third party sources should be applied, pro rata, against loan balances. Some have stated that the collateral source rule bars using third party payments as offset to the debt. But that rule is used in tort cases and contract cases are different. There are certain types of payments, like guarantees from Fannie and Freddie that might not be susceptible to use as offset because they are caused by the default of the debtor and because they are not paid until the foreclosure is complete.

But the insurance, credit default swaps and other hedge products that caused the banks to receive payment are a different story. Those are not paid because of a default by any particular borrower but rather are caused by a unilateral declaration of a “credit event” declared by the Master Servicer and are paid to the holder of the mortgage bonds. The mortgage bonds are issued by a trust based upon the advance of money by investors who wish to pool their money into an asset pool and receive income with what was thought to be a minimum of risk.

Since the broker-dealers (investment banks) were acting as agents for the trust and the bond holders, any money received by them should have first been allocated to the trust, then pro rata to the bond holders. Whether or not this money was actually forwarded to the bond holders is irrelevant if the investment banks were the agents of the investment vehicle and thus owed a duty to the investors to whom they sold the mortgage bonds.

Logic dictates that if the money was paid to the banks as “holders” of the bond (because they were issued in street name as nominee securities) that the balance owed by the trust to the investors was correspondingly reduced — reflecting the devaluation of the bonds declared by the master servicer based upon such criteria as the lack of liquidity of the bonds that had been trading freely on a weekly basis, or because of the severe drop in real estate prices down to their actual values, or because of other factors.

It should be noted that the declaration of the banks is unilateral and in their sole discretion and not subject to challenge by anyone because the declaration creates an irrefutable presumption that the content of the declaration is true. Thus the insurance company must pay, the credit default swap counterparty must pay and other hedge partners must pay as a result of an act by the bank, not the investor nor the borrower.

All the loans contained in the asset pool subject to the declared credit event are affected. And since the reason for the declaration has little relationship to defaults, and plenty of other more important reasons, the amount owed to investors is reduced by the receipt of the payments by their agent, the bank. That means the account receivable of the lender is reduced, regardless of which bank account the money happens to be deposited.

If the account receivable is reduced before, during or after a delinquency of the borrower (assuming the loan is actually in existence) then the borrowers’ balances should be reduced, pro rata for each loan in the asset pool that was the subject of the declaration of a credit event. It is therefore my opinion that the homeowner could and probably should file an affirmative defense for offset for the pro rata share of insurance, credit default swaps etc.

There is one more source that should be considered for offset. Several investors have made claims against the banks claiming that their money was misused and that the terms of the loan were not followed including, bad underwriting and unenforceable documents created at closing. Many of them have already settled those claims and received payment, thus reducing their account receivable from the trust (and by pure logic reducing, dollar for dollar the account payable from the trust). Since the sole source of payment on the bond is the payment of the mortgages, it follows that by utilizing the most simple of accounting standards, the balance owed by the homeowner would be correspondingly be reduced, pro rata, dollar for dollar.

The fact that the underwriting was bad, the loans were not viable or enforceable and based upon inflated appraisals and lies about the income of the borrower, is not something caused by the borrower. The fact that the money was paid to all of the investors in that particular asset pool means that each investor should get a share equal to the amount of money they invested compared to all the money that was invested in that pool.

As to figuring out how much of the offset goes to the borrower’s account payable, it should be calculated in the same way. The amount of the borrower’s debt should be compared with the total amount of loans in the asset pool. This percentage should be applied against all third party payments that did not arise out of the default by the borrowers. In fact, it should be applied against all borrowers whose loans were claimed by that asset pool, whether they were in default or not. This would be grounds for a claim by people who are “current” in their payments for a credit or refund of the amount received from insurance, credit default swaps, or payments by the banks in settlement of investors’ claims of fraud.

This approach should be brought up very early in litigation so that there is plenty of time to pursue the discovery required to determine the amount received and the proper calculation of pro rata shares. If you do it at trial, the best you can hope for is that the judge will take notice of the fact that the foreclosing party only brought part of the documents relating to the loan instead of all of them, which should be the subject of a subpoena for the designated witness of the bank to bring with her or him all of the documents relating to the subject loan or any instrument deriving its value in whole or in part from the subject loan’s existence.

Thus at trial you can have a two pronged attack, getting them coming and going. The first is of course the fact that the originator did not fund the loan and that the break between the money trail (actual transactions) and the paper trail (fictitious transactions) occurred at the closing table. In most cases that is true, but it can be replaced or buttressed by the fact that the same argument holds true for acquired loans that were previously originated. The endorsement of the note or assignment of mortgage is a fictitious instrument if there was no sale of the loan. The important thing is to talk about the money first and then use that to show that the documents are fabricated relating to no real transaction.

Then you also have the argument of offset which hopefully by then you will have set up by discovery.

Practice Note: Many lawyers are accepting fee retainers far below the level that would support properly litigating these cases. Now that the marketplace has matured, lawyers should reconsider their pricing and their prosecution of the defenses, affirmative defenses and counterclaims. Even clients who announce a goal of just staying as long as possible without paying rent or mortgage are probably saying that because they think they owe more money than is actually the case.

Only $4 Billion of JPM $13 Billion Settlement Goes for “Consumer Relief”

For assistance in understanding the content of this article and purchasing services that provide information for attorneys and homeowners see http://www.livingliesstore.com.

Josh Arnold has written an interesting article that reveals both realities and misconceptions arising from gross misconceptions. His misperceptions arise primarily from two factors. First he either ignores the fact that JPM was integrally involved in the underwriting, sale and hedging of the alleged mortgage bonds, never actually acquired the loans or the bonds on which they claimed a loss, and made huge “profits” from fictitious trades disguised as “proprietary” trading which was a cover for tier 2 yield spread premiums that were never disclosed to investors or borrowers. The deregulation of those mortgage securities may have provided cover for the fraud that occurred to investors, but the failure to disclose this “compensation” to borrowers violates the truth in lending act and state deceptive lending laws.

Second, the article is based upon a point of view that is not surprising coming from a Wall Street analyst but which is bad for the country. The ideology behind this is clear — Wall Street is there to make money for itself. That has never been true. Wall Street exists solely because in a growing and complex economy, liquidity must be created by breaking up risks into portions small enough to attract investors to the table. Whether they make money or not depends upon their skill in running a company.

Unfortunately in the early 1970′s the door was flung wide open when broker-dealers were allowed to incorporate and go public. Just ask Alan Greenspan who believed the markets would self correct because the players would act rationally in their own self interest. As he he says in his latest book, the banks did not act rationally nor in their own best interest because they were being run by management that was acting for the self interest of management and not the company. Back in the 1960′s none of this would have occurred when the broker-dealers were partnerships —leading partners to question any transaction by any partner that put the partners at risk. Now the partners are remote and distant shareholders who are among the victims of management fraud or excess risk taking.

The effect on foreclosure defense is that, at the suggestion of the former Fed Chairman, we should stop assuming that the broker dealers that are now called banks were acting with enlightened or rational self-interest. The opening and closing statement should refer to the information like this article Quoted below as demonstrating that the banks were openly violating common law, statutory, and administrative rules because the losses from litigation would not be a liability of the actual people who caused the violations.

Any presumption in favor of the foreclosing bank should be looked at with intense skepticism. And in discovery remember to ask questions about just how bad the underwriting process was and revealing the absolute fact, now proven beyond any reasonable doubt, the goal was for the first time NOT to minimize risk, but rather to force applications to closing because of giant profits that could be booked as soon as the loan was sold, since at the time of closing the loans were already part of a reported chain of securitization. Investigation at real banks as opposed to “originators” will reveal two sets of underwriting rules and practices — one for their own portfolio loans in compliance with industry standards and the other for the vast majority of loans that were claimed to be part of a fictitious cloud of securitization that did not comply with industry standards.

In the end my initial assessment in 2007-2008 on these pages is proving to be true. The unraveling of this mess will depend upon quiet title lawsuits and lawsuits for damages resulting from violations of the Truth in Lending Act — where those gross profit distortions at the broker-dealer level are required to be paid to the homeowner because they were not disclosed at closing.
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From Seeking Alpha website, by Josh Arnold —

JPMorgan’s (JPM) legal woes got a lot worse over the weekend with its well-publicized $13 billion settlement. JPM already has much more than that set aside to pay legal claims so it’s really a non-event for the bank; they saw it coming to a degree. I’m not here to debate whether or not JPM’s employees misled investors, including Fannie and Freddie, but what I think the most important, and disconcerting, piece of this settlement is the way it was undertaken by the Administration.

Think back to 2008 when the world as we knew it was ending. Smaller financial institutions were failing left and right and even the larger players, including Lehman, Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Wachovia and others eventually found themselves in enormous trouble to the point where distressed sales were the only way to stave off bankruptcy (save Lehman, of course). The federal government, eager to avoid a massive crisis, asked JPM, Wells Fargo (WFC) and others to aid the effort to avoid such a calamity. Both obliged and we know history shows JPM ended up with Washington Mutual and Bear Stearns while Wells purchased Wachovia as it was on the cusp of going out of business. At the time, JPM CEO Jamie Dimon famously asked the government, as a favor for bailing out WaMu and Bear Stearns, not to prosecute JPM down the road for the sins of the acquired institutions. This is only fair and it should have gone without saying as the idea of prosecuting an acquirer for something the acquired company did as an independent institution is preposterous.

However, that is exactly where we find ourselves today with the settlement that has been struck. JPM has said publicly that 80% of the losses accrued from the loans that are the subject of this settlement were from Bear and WaMu. This means that, despite Dimon’s asking and the fact that the federal government “urged” JPM to acquire these two institutions, JPM is indeed being punished for something it had nothing to do with. This is a watershed moment in our nation’s history as the next time a financial crisis rolls around, who is going to want to help the federal government acquire failing institutions? Now that we know that the reward for such behavior is perp walks, public shaming via our lawmakers (who can’t even fund their own spending) and enormous legal fines and settlements, I’m thinking it will be harder for the government to find a buyer next time.

Not only is the subject of this legal settlement and the very nature of the way it has been conducted suspect, but even the fines themselves as part of the settlement amount to nothing more than tax revenue. The $13 billion is split up as follows: $9 billion in penalties and fees and $4 billion in consumer relief. The penalties and fees are ostensibly for the “wrongdoing” that JPM must have performed in order to be subject such a historic settlement. These penalties and fees are for allegedly misleading investors in these securities and misrepresenting the strength of the underlying loans. The buyers of these securities, however, were all very sophisticated themselves, including the government sponsored entities. These companies had analysts working on these securities purchases and could very well have realized that the underlying loans were bad. However, Fannie and Freddie blindly purchased the mortgages and were eventually saddled with large losses as a result. But instead of the GSE’s taking responsibility for bad investment decisions, the government has decided to simply confiscate $13 billion from a private sector company while Fannie and Freddie have claimed zero responsibility whatsoever for their role in the losses.

The other $4 billion is earmarked for “consumer relief” but the worst part of this is that these loans were sold to institutions. This means that this consumer relief is simply a bogus way to confiscate more money from JPM and the alleged reason has no basis in reality. The consumer relief portion would suggest that JPM misled the individual consumers taking the loans that were eventually securitized but that is not what the settlement is about. In fact, this is simply a way to redistribute wealth and the Administration is taking full advantage. In order for the redistribution of wealth to make the alleged victims whole it would need to be distributed among the institutions that purchased the securities. So is this part of the settlement, under the guise of “consumer relief”, really just another tax levy? Or is it going to consumers that had absolutely nothing to do with this case? Either way, it’s confiscatory and doesn’t make any sense. Based on reports about this consumer relief portion of the settlement, this money is going wherever the Administration sees fit. In other words, this is simply tax revenue that is being redistributed and given to consumers that have absolutely zero to do with this case.

Even the $9 billion in penalties and fees is going to be distributed among various government agencies and as such, this money is also tax revenue. Otherwise, the money for these agencies would eventually come from the Treasury but instead, JPM is going to foot the bill.

I’m not against companies that have done something wrong being punished. In fact, that is a necessary part of a fair and open capitalist system that allows the free world the economic prosperity it has enjoyed over history. However, this settlement is a clear case of the federal government confiscating private assets in order to redistribute them among government operations and consumers that had absolutely nothing to do with the lawsuit. I am extremely disappointed in the way the Administration has handled this case and other banks should be on notice; it doesn’t matter what you did or didn’t do, if you’ve got the money, the government will come after you.

In terms of what this means for the stock, JPM has already set aside $23 billion for litigation reserves so when the bill comes due for this settlement, JPM has more than enough firepower available to pay it. In fact, this settlement is likely a positive for the stock. Since this is likely to be the largest of the fines/settlements handed down on the Bank of Dimon, the fact that the uncertainty has been lifted should alleviate some concern on the part of investors. In addition to this, since JPM still has a sizable reserve, $10 billion or so, left for additional litigation, investors may be surprised down the road if JPM can actually recoup some of that litigation expense and boost earnings. Not only would that remove a multi-billion drain on book value but it could also increase the bank’s GAAP earnings if all litigation reserves weren’t used up. In any event, even if that is not the chosen path, JPM could still recognize higher earnings in the coming quarters if it sees it needs less money set aside each quarter for litigation reserves. Again, this is very positive for the stock but for more tangible reasons.

The bottom line is that JPM got the short end of the stick with this settlement. Not only is the bank paying for the sins of others but it is paying very dearly and sustaining reputational damage in the process. I couldn’t be more disappointed with the way the Administration’s witch hunt was conducted and the end result. But that is the world we apparently live in now and if you want to invest in banks you need to be prepared to deal with confiscatory fines and levies against banks simply because they can’t stop the government from taking it.

However, JPM is better positioned than perhaps any of its too-big-too-fail brethren to weather the storm and I think that is why there was virtually no movement in the stock when the settlement became public. JPM has been stockpiling litigation reserves when no one was looking and has done well in doing so. With the looming threat of this settlement now come and gone, investors can concentrate on what a terrific money making machine JPM is again. Trading at a small premium to book value and only nine times next year’s earnings estimates, JPM is the safe choice among the TBTF banks. Couple its very cheap valuation with its robust, nearly 3% yield and the largest settlement against a single company in our country’s history behind it and you’ve got a great potential long term buy.

Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Share this ArticleComments(8)

Don Dion
Oct 23 07:49 AM
Josh,

Great article. See also http://seekingalpha.co…

Don

How Does Insurance Payee Match Up with Claims of Ownership of the Loan?

There have been many admissions by government officials and even parties to the litigation over mortgage Foreclosures to the effect that at this point the ownership of most loans is in doubt. Even President Obama said it, reflecting the views and advice of the senior advisors at the White House. On appeal, recently in California, BOTH sides admitted they had no way of identifying the true creditor — and that is why we have all this litigation, why we have gridlock on modifications and settlements. So what do we do?

One insurance expert I interviewed suggested that his industry might solve the problem, but I think his points raise more questions than answers. Nonetheless, to prove the question, and overcome certain presumptions that are legally applied, examining the insurance policies and the changes that occur in forced placed insurance might reveal the issues and even illuminate the potential solution.

Bank of America is an example of a bank that rushes to take any excuse to place insurance from their own carrier BalBOA, naming BOA as the loss payee on liability policies. The usual previous loss payee was someone else — perhaps the originator or some alleged assignee. The procedure of forced placed insurance creates both additional income to the bank and skips over the question of who owns the loan. When the insurance is reinstated or shown to have never lapsed in the the first place, it often names BOA thus lending support to the bank’s position that it is the owner of the loan.

Looking at the title insurance, who is the loss payee? Besides the owner’s policy there is a rider for the mortgagee named in the mortgage. Of course that party may not be a mortgagee when the mortgage is examined carefully. But changes in loss payees under title insurance usually requires notice and consent of the owner of the property.

Thus the question could be asked in Discovery about who was responsible for tracking title insurance, liability insurance and PMI, why does the policy name a loss payee other than the bank claiming ownership and what efforts were made by the bank to correct the identity of the creditor?

The same thing applies to PMI. If the payee is somebody different than the Forecloser you will notice that none of the banks allege that this is a breach of the mortgage contract. Why not? I think it is because the insurer would demand more proof than what is offered in court as to ownership and that the bank would not be able to satisfy the insurer that it had an insurable interest in the property.

Most Mortgage Closings Were Sham Closings

“Powers of attorney are fraught with problems. Title attorneys and title insurance companies are reluctant to accept them, and will insist on making sure that the proper form and correct language is included in the document. You should not use the forms that can be obtained free of charge (or even for a fee) on the internet. If you need to provide a power of attorney for your real estate transaction, get the proper form from the settlement attorney that will be handling the closing.” Benny L Kass, realtytimes.com see link below

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our South Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. In Northern Florida and the Panhandle call 850-765-1236. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services. Get advice from attorneys licensed in the jurisdiction in which your property is located. We do provide litigation support — but only for licensed attorneys.
See LivingLies Store: Reports and Analysis

Editor’s Analysis: Consider this. You walk in off the street and apply for a loan. The Bank confirms the loan and a closing date and place is set up — usually at a closing agent or title agent (who is also a closing agent). But your friend shows up and wants the loan and says he is willing to sign the papers. What do you think the Bank would do? What do you think the closing agent would do? It’s obvious. The closing is cancelled and the loan never happens.

But suppose your friend has a friend in the bank and that person is in charge of preparing the papers for closing. The friendly bank person switches out the name of the borrower from you to your friend. The closing agent collects the money from the bank and gives your friend the loan. When the loan goes into default the bank finds that it loaned the money to the wrong person. Having no rights against you they are limited to pursuing your friend who by now is long gone. Unless they prove you had something to do with it, they have nothing on you.

Next, assume your friend goes to the closing for you and he has a power of attorney from you, saying you are out of town or whatever excuse he can think of. The closing agent will most likely not accept the power of attorney unless told to do so by the Bank. The Bank will most likely refuse because powers of attorney are subject to cancellation by death or disability.

If your friend adds that he is your successor because you died and he is the personal representative of your estate, there are even more problems and fewer chances that the bank will accept the successor argument or the power of attorney. The assumption would be that something screwy is going on and the Bank wants no part of it. Suppose the power of attorney is a forgery? What if you are not really dead?

But in the modern era of foreclosures the very same succession and powers of attorney are accepted without question FROM the same banks who would turn it down if it were offered TO them. THIS is why you need forensic auditors to give you a report on where the weaknesses are in the chain of title and the money trail. The best way to determine if an assignment is actually valid is to look at the consideration. Who paid how much to whom? And that is the heart of aggressive discovery. The Banks don’t want to get into that because they would be shown to be strangers to the transaction and that the assignment or transfer never actually occurred.

When you went to your loan closing or your client went to their loan closing, there was an assumption that was not true in most cases —- that the payee on the note and the mortgagee on the mortgage was giving the borrower a loan of money. But they didn’t. The money came from investors rather directly through the investment bank that acted as a depository for the funds until they withdrawn for their own fees or to fund mortgages like yours. The party that SHOULD have been on the documents was the actual lender — i.e., the investor or a group of investors in a REMIC trust if indeed the trust was ever funded, which we are finding is increasingly unlikely.

Now the Banks are saying that just because they had their own reasons not to write the right parties and terms on the loan in violation of their duties to the investors, that the Bank is entitled to foreclose! AND if you look closely you see all the succession language and powers of attorney, endorsements, and mergers, all of which lack consideration for any transfer of any loan because the loan was funded from the beginning by the investors who were forced out of the room.

In Court when the judge enters a final judgment of foreclosure or allows the sale to proceed the Judge is unintentionally stripping the investors of their security rights and stripping the investors of any claim for payment against the borrower — which was the ONLY reason they advanced money in the first place. This in turn gives the borrower nobody to talk to to find out the real balance of the account receivable, or to address issues of modification.

If the Judiciary wants to see this bulge of foreclosure cases go away, then enforce the mortgages the same you did when there was no securitization. They will vanish in a flash.

 

Powers of Attorney: A Potential For Fraud
http://realtytimes.com/rtpages/20130828-powersofattorney.htm

 

The Real Deal and How to Get There

Internet Store Notice: As requested by customer service, this is to explain the use of the COMBO, Consultation and Expert Declaration. The only reason they are separate is that too many people only wanted or could only afford one or the other — all three should be purchased. The Combo is a road map for the attorney to set up his file and start drafting the appropriate pleadings. It reveals defects in the title chain and inferentially in the money chain and provides the facts relative to making specific allegations concerning securitization issues. The consultation looks at your specific case and gives the benefit of litigation support consultation and advice that I can give to lawyers but I cannot give to pro se litigants. The expert declaration is my explanation to the Court of the findings of the forensic analysis. It is rare that I am actually called as a witness apparently because the cases are settled before a hearing at which evidence is taken.
If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our South Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. In Northern Florida and the Panhandle call 850-765-1236. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services. Get advice from attorneys licensed in the jurisdiction in which your property is located. We do provide litigation support — but only for licensed attorneys.
See LivingLies Store: Reports and Analysis

The Real Deal and How to Get There

If you read the Glaski case any of the hundreds of other decisions that have been rendered you will see one glaring error — failure to raise an issue or objection in a timely manner. This results from ignorance of the facts of securitization. So here is my contribution to all lawyers, wherever you are, to prosecute your case. I would also suggest that you use every tool available to disabuse the Judge of the notion that your goal is delay — so push the case even when the other side is backpedaling, ask for expedited discovery. Act like you have a winning case on your hands, because, in my opinion, you do.

The key is to attack the Judge’s presumption whether stated or not, that a real transaction took place, whether at origination or transfer. Once you let the Court know that is what you are attacking the Judge must either rule against you as a matter of law which would be overturned easily on appeal and they know it, or they must allow penetrating discovery that will reveal the real money trail. The error made by nearly everyone is that the presumption that the paperwork tells THE story. The truth is that the paperwork tells a story but it is false.

Nevertheless the burden is on the proponent of that argument to properly plead it with facts and as we know the facts are largely in the hands of the investment banker and not even the servicer has it. My law firm represents clients directly in Florida and provides litigation support to any attorney wherever they are located. We now send out a preservation letter (Google it) as soon as we are retained. We send it to everyone we know or think might have some connection to the file. If they can’t find something, the presumption arises they destroyed it if we show that in the ordinary course of business they would keep records like that. We also have a computer forensic analyst who is a lawyer that can go into the computers and the data and see when they were created, by whom and reveal the input that was done to create certain files and instruments.

Once the facts are properly proposed, then the proponent still has the burden of proving the allegations through discovery. That is because the paperwork raises a rebuttable presumption of validity. The Glaski case gives lots of hints as to how and when to do this. Neither judicial notice of an instrument nor the rebuttable presumption arising out of an instrument of commerce gives the bank immunity. And the requests for discovery should attack the root of their position — that the foreclosing party is true beneficiary or mortgagee.

With the Glaski Case in California and we have one just like it in Florida, the allegation must be made that the transaction is void as to the transfer to the Trust. You have a related proof challenge when they insist that the loan was not securitized. You say it was subject to claims of securitization. That puts you in a he said she said situation — which puts you in the position of the Judge ruling against you because you have not passed the threshold of moving the burden back to the Bank. What penetrates that void is the allegation and proof of the absence of any actual transaction — i.e., one in which there was an offer, acceptance of the offer and consideration. The UCC says an instrument is negotiated when sold for value. You say there was no value. Proving the loan is subject to claims of securitization may require discovery into the accounting records of the parties in the securitization chain. What you are looking for is a loan receivable account or account receivable that is owned by the party to whom the money is owed. At the servicer this does not exist, which is why the error in court is to go with the servicer’s records, which are incomplete because they do not reveal the payments OUT to third party creditors or others, nor other payments IN like from the investment bank who funds continued payment to the creditors to keep them ignorant that their portfolio is collapsing.

The transaction is void if there was an attempt to assign the loan into the trust. First, it violated the instrument of the trust (PSA) because of the cutoff rule. The court in Glaski correctly pointed out that under the circumstances this challenge was valid because of the prejudice to the beneficiaries of the trust. They use discretion to assert that there is prejudice to the beneficiaries because of the economic impact of losing their preferential tax status. They did not add (because nobody raised it), that the additional prejudice to the beneficiaries is that it is usually a loan that is already declared in default that is being assigned. Judge Shack in New York has frequently commented on this.

Hence the proposed transfer violates the cutoff date, the tax status and the requirement that the loan be in good standing. Sales of the bonds issued by the trust were based upon the premise that the bonds were extremely low risk. Taking defaulted loans into the trust certainly  violates that and under federal and state regulations the pension funds, as “Stable managed funds” can ONLY invest in extremely low risk securities.

Hence the possibility of ratification is out of the question. First, it is isn’t allowed  under the IRC and the PSA and second, it isn’t allowed under the PSA because the investors are being handed an immediate loss — a purchase with their funds (which you will show never happened anyway) of a defaulted loan. But to close the loop on the argument of possible ratification, you must take the deposition of the trustee of the trust.

Without the possibility of ratification, the transaction is definitely void. In that depo it will be revealed that they had no access or signature authority to any trust account and performed no duties. But they are still the party entrusted with the fiduciary duties to the beneficiaries. So when you ask whether they would allow the purchase of a bad loan or any loan that would cause the REMIC to lose its tax status they must answer either “no” or I don’t know. The latter answer would make appear foolish.

A note in the Glaski case is also very revealing. It is stated there that BOTH sides conceded that the real owner of the debt is probably unknown and can never be known. So tread softly on the proposition that the real owner of the loan NOW is the investor. But there is a deeper question suggested by this startling admission by the Court and both sides of the litigation. If the facts are alleged that a given set of investors somehow pooled their money and it was used to fund the loan origination or to fund the loan acquisition, what exactly do the investors have NOW? It would appear to be a total loss on that loan. They paid for it but they don’t own it because it never made it into the trust.

The alternative, proposed by me, is that this conclusion is prejudicial to the beneficiary, violates basic fairness, and is contrary to the intent of the real parties in interest — the investors as lenders and the homeowners as borrowers. The proper conclusion should be, regardless of the form of transaction and content of instruments that were all patently false, that the investors are lenders and the homeowner is a borrower. The principal is the amount borrowed. The terms are uncertain because the investors were buying a bond with repayment terms vastly different than the repayment terms of the note that the homeowner signed. Where this occurs the note or obligation is generally converted into a demand obligation, which like tender of money in a loan dispute, is enforced unless it produces an inequitable result, which is patently obvious in this case since it would result in a judgment and judgment lien that might be foreclosed against the homeowner.

With the assignment to the trust being void, and the money of the investor being used to fund the loan, and there being no privity between the investor and the homeowner, the only logical conclusion is to establish that the debt exists, but that it is unsecured and subject to the court’s determination to fashion the terms of repayment — or mediation in which the unsecured loan becomes legitimately secured through negotiations with the investors.

Since the loan was not legally assigned into the trust and the trust did not fund the origination of the loan, the PSA no longer governs the transaction; thus the authority of the servicer is absent, but the servicer should still be subpoenaed to produce ALL the records, which is to say the transactions between the servicer and the borrower AND the transactions between the servicer and any third parties to whom it forwarded the payment, or with whom it engaged in other receipts or disbursements related to this loan.

Since the loan was not legally assigned into the trust, the trustee has no responsibility for that loan, but the investment bank who used the investors money to fund the the loan is also a proper target of discovery as is the Maser Servicer and aggregators, all of whom engaged in various transactions that were based upon the ownership of the loan being in the trust. Now we know it isn’t in the trust. The Banks have used this void to jump in and claim that they own the loan, which is obviously inequitable (if not criminal). But the equitable and proper result would be to establish that the investors own an account receivable from borrowers in this type of situation since they were the ones who advanced the money, not the banks.

Since the loan was not legally assigned into the trust, the servicer has no  actual authority or contract with the investors who are now free to enter into direct negotiations with the borrowers and avoid the servicers who are clearly serving the interest of the parties in the securitization chain (which failed) and not the investors. Thus any instrument executed using the securitization or history of “assignments” (without consideration) as the foundation for executing such an instrument is void. That includes substitutions of trustees, assignments, notices of default, notices of sale, lawsuits to foreclose or any effort at collection.

Note that without authority and based upon intentionally false representations, the servicers might be subject to a cause of action for interference with contractual rights, especially where a modification proposal was “turned down by the investor. “ If the investor was not the Trust and it was the Trust allegedly who turned it down (I am nearly certain that the investors are NEVER contacted), then the servicer’s push into foreclosure not only produces a wrongful foreclose but also interference with the rights and obligations of the true lenders and borrowers who are both probably willing to enter into negotiations to settle this mess.

The second inquiry is about the balance of the account receivable and the obvious connection between the account receivable owned by the investors and the account payable owed by the homeowners. I don’t think there is any reasonable question about the initial balance due, because that can easily be established and should be established by reference to a canceled check or wire transfer receipt. But the balance now is affected by sales to the Federal Reserve, insurance, bailouts and credit default swaps (CDS).

Since the loan was not assigned to the trust then the bond issued by the trust that purports to own the loan is wrong. The insurance, CDS, guarantees, purchases and bailouts were all premised on the assumption that the false securitization trail was true, then it follows that the money received by anyone represents proceeds that does not in any way belong to them. They clearly owe that money to the investor to the extent of the investors’ advance of actual money, with the balance due to the homeowner, as per the agreement of the parties at the closing with the homeowner. But the payors of those moneys also have a claim for refund, buy back, or unjust enrichment, fraud, etc.

Those payors have one obvious problem: they executed agreements that waived any right to collect from the borrower. Thus they are stuck with the bond which is worthless through no fault of the beneficiaries. So their claim, I would argue, is against the investment bank. The guarantors (Fannie, Freddie et al) have buyback rights against the parties who sold them the loans they didn’t own or the bonds representing ownership that was non-existent. Here a fair way of looking at it is that the investors are credited with the third party mitigation payments, the account payable of the borrower is reduced proportionately with the reduction of the account receivable (by virtue of cash payment to their agents which reduces the account receivable because the money should be paid to and credited to the investor) and the balance of the money received should then go to the guarantor to the extent of their loss, and then any further balance left divided equally amongst the investors, borrowers and guarantors.

To do it any other way would either leave the banks with their ill-gotten gains and unjust enrichment, or over payment to the investors, over payment to the borrowers who are entitled to such proceeds as per most statutes governing the subject, or over payment to the guarantors. The argument would be made that the investors, borrowers and guarantors are getting a windfall. Yes that might be the case if the over payments resulting from multiple sales of the same loan exceeded all money advanced on the actual loan. But to leave it with the Banks who were never at risk and who are still getting preferential treatment because of their shaky status would be to reward those who intended to be the risk takers, but who masked the absence of risk to them through false statements to the parties who all collectively advanced money and property to this scheme without knowing that they were all doing so.

 

The question is on what basis should the banks be rewarded with the windfall. I can find no support for that proposition. But based upon public policy or other considerations regarding the nature of the hedge transactions used to sell the same loan over and over again, it might be argued that the investment bank is entitled to retain SOME money if the total exceeds the full balances owed to the investors (thereby extinguishing the payable from the borrower), and the full balances owed to the guarantors.

How to Win the Case

There many ways to win a case, so what I am saying in this article should be taken in the context of a larger reality where lawyers are winning hearings and winning the entire case using their own style, strategies and tactics. And it is equally true that any case management plan, regardless of the brilliance behind it, can still result in a loss. So this article should not be taken as my way or the highway, but rather just my way.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the argument that many lawyers are using at the beginning of the case should really be reserved until the end if the case — closing argument at trial, or argument at motions in limine, motions for summary judgment etc.

The narrative at the end of the case must be based upon evidence that you have built, brick by brick, and which has been admitted in evidence or at least is presumed correct by the time you make your arguments. The error of pro se litigants and many lawyers is that in the absence of knowledge and experience in trial law, they attempt to insert the final narrative at the beginning of the case, when it is neither credible on its face nor supported by anything in the record. Evidence, for the most part, consists of facts that are admitted into evidence or presumed true. In early motion practice and discovery requests and motions there is no evidence except that the Plaintiff’s complaint is usually presumed or deemed to be true for purposes of the motion and argument.

If you wish to challenge the foreclosure complaint or the notice of sale in non-judicial states it is necessary for you to know the facts and know the defects of the case presented by your opposition. Announcing your narrative at the beginning merely telegraphs your case plan and locks you into an argument about why you are saying what you are saying.

For that reason I question the wisdom of filing counterclaims against the foreclosing party since your claim probably does not arise until it is determined that the foreclosure action was wrongful. This is a matter some considerable debate amongst lawyers who believe that the borrower’s claims are compulsory counterclaims that are waived unless filed in the first action that litigates the validity of the foreclosure. So it is a tricky call and only a licensed practicing attorney can give you an opinion upon which you could rely in your strategy. My belief is that most of the issues presented by the planned counterclaim should fit nicely into affirmative defenses and set up the claim for wrongful foreclosure, Slander of title etc.

So knowing your theory of the case is important as a guidepost for your early discovery and motion practice. But what you need to do is attack the basic facts and presumptions alleged by your opposition. Where do you start? In judicial states there are frequently rules requiring the verification of the complaint. Taking the deposition of the person who verified the complaint is a good idea.

Making them bring the documents and media upon which they relied might require the place of deposition to be their place of work and for lawyers to arrange for video deposition. The interesting reaction of your opposition is likely to be a motion for protective order. At this hearing you can probably get an order requiring that the person show up, perhaps permitting access to the workplace for your forensic ediscovery expert, and to bring documents “upon which she or he relied.”

My experience is that the presumptions in favor of the banks start cracking during the fight about deposing the verifier and the designated representative (the next deposition duces Tecum). The Bank will want to block access to the person who signed the verification. They will want to limit the inquiry to the designated corporate representative. Keep in mind that you also want to depose the witness who will testify at trial find out why that witness is different from the one they produced as the corporate representative with the “most” knowledge at deposition and why both if them are different than the person who verified the complaint.

By demonstrating the stonewalling and delays imposed by the bank who supposedly has an interest in getting to foreclosure sale, judges recognize that there is something odd about the case. Asking for and offering an expedited discovery schedule in a motion for status conference will also help set the stage for your accusation that the delaying party is the plaintiff or the foreclosing party. Being the aggressor can convey the impression that the borrower is not the perpetrator, but rather the victim of wrongful behavior.

Early subpoenas and motions will remove the impression that are just buying time. Strategies for buying time even if allowed by the court, basically show that you are admitting the debt, note, mortgage, foreclosure sale and credit bid but want your client to get a few months of free rent. You are digging the wrong hole if your case strategy encourages the judge to believe that the debt, note and mortgage, and the assignments are all valid and that the borrower is looking for a break.

Early proactive litigation can highlight the fact that the bank is backing up and only wants to fight uncontested cases. It is a way to take control of the narrative gradually, so that when it comes to the motions for summary judgment (including your own cross motion), you have an opening for victory as Mark Stopa has done in Florida at least make it clear that there are material issues of fact in dispute.

The absence of early proactive discovery and motions speaks loudly that the homeowner really has no defense because otherwise they would have pursued the proof.

Getting experienced trial attorneys who understand this article is not easy. Most cases settle, and most people are at least initially happy to remove the stressor imminent foreclosure and eviction. But without presenting a credible threat to the opposition, the settlement, if it happens at all is not going to offer much in terms of relief. And the cost of just getting free rent is not retaining your house and not having offset and complaints for damages for wrongful foreclosure. When you sit and do nothing you are conforming to the playbook of the bank. In the end they get the foreclosure, they evict the homeowner and the homeowner gets nothing except a black mark on their credit history.

We offer a forms library that will help reduce the work and cost of an attorney if he or she uses them as templates. Write to neilfgarfield@hotmail.com to inquire. But there are also dozens of free forms and templates you can get from foreclosure defense forms n the left side of this blog. THEY SHOULD NOT BE USED WITHOUT CONSULTING AN ATTORNEY LICENSED TO PRACTICE IN THE JURISDICTION IN WHICH THEN PROPERTY IS LOCATED.

Forcing Modification on a Reluctant Servicer

DON’T FORGET THAT THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE SERVICER WITH WHOM YOU ARE DEALING (THE SUBSERVICER) AND THE MASTER SERVICER WHO IS CALLING THE SHOTS ON BEHALF FOR THE INVESTMENT BANKER. DEMAND PROOF OF WHO IS HANDLING THE MODIFICATION, WHO IS ASSIGNED AND WHO THEY CONSULTED.

After interviewing Danielle Kelley on the issue of modification, there is a lot of red meat that can be used to bring relief to the homeowner and sanctions against the servicer that was negligently or intentionally avoiding its responsibilities under HAMP. Danielle points out that according to the DOJ judgment against BOA, there seems to be direct guidelines (which BOA has intentionally breached as a matter of policy) that under HAMP, the servicer is required to submit the proposal for underwriting prior to offering a trial payment plan. This would suggest something that is certain to be attractive to the Judge who neither wants to throw anyone out of their home nor let the borrower off the hook because there is a coffee stain on the documents.

It may be presumed that the servicer HAS submitted the plan for underwriting if they offer a trial modification. That means the borrower has been twice approved for the loan — first at origination and then under the trial modification. No more documents or financial statements, no more “consideration,” and no more denials based upon nothing. If the bank refuses, then the appropriate motion would be to enforce a settlement agreement — which is the way I would entitle it. And the argument would be that if the trial modification is not a gateway to permanent modification after underwriting twice the same borrower and after accepting trial payments, then what is it — a survey?

As we have already seen in a recent case litigated by Danielle Kelley the Judge didn’t buy the argument that the permanent modification is not automatic even if the borrower fulfills all requirements under the trial modification. remember, this borrower has already been qualified in the loan origination. Use that against the bank, saying that you approved them twice and now you want to deny them a modification after they have demonstrated the loan is viable by making the actual payments?

If the situation gets hairy then go into discovery and identify all the actual people who were involved, who they contacted, what computers they used, what software and what criteria they used in approving the trial modification. You will find they contacted nobody and did not actually underwrite the trial modification at all even though they were required to do so before the trial modification was offered by them. That’s their choice. If they want to approve trial modifications the same way they approved loans — without conforming to industry underwriting standards — they have made their election. They do not now have the excuse or basis for denying the permanent modification or demanding that the loan modification process begin all over again.

Once again we are confronted with a bank that doesn’t want the money, doesn’t want the loan reinstated, and who refuses to mitigate their damages, electing instead to push the borrower into foreclosure where both the investor/creditor (who probably knows nothing about the situation because they were never contacted, contrary to the condition precedent in HAMP and the DOJ judgment) and the borrower end up screwed.

This is only now coming out through whistle blowers. I have been predicting that this would be revealed for years and most people thought I was nuts. Maybe I am nuts but I am still right. The servicers and investment bankers have painted themselves into a corner. The truth is that none of them has any authority to negotiate the terms of the modification, nor to pursue foreclosure because not even they know if there is an actual balance left on the old loan receivable which has long since been converted into something else thanks to payment by a third party who expressly waived their right of substitution, subrogation or contribution against the borrower.

This is not theory — it is about the facts. Why would you take a document handed to you by the bank or attached to a pleading or recording be assumed by the attorney for the homeowner to be true and correct. We know it isn’t. So it is the lawyer’s job to probe through discovery down to see what transactions occurred, when they occurred and who were the parties to the transaction, as well as the terms of the transaction. Then the lawyer should compare the actual transactions, (shown by canceled checks, wire transfer receipts or other indicia of payment that can be corroborated through the national payments systems), with the documents proffered by the forecloser who is now pretending to modify when in fact they are steering the borrower into foreclosure, contrary to normal banking practice of maximizing the mitigation of damages such that the bank loses nothing or close to nothing. Listen to any seminar, as late as the last year, on foreclosure defaults and the seminar is all about workouts because that is the best answer for both the bank and the borrower. Now they would rather lose more money than less.  Why?

Workouts are the furthest thing from the bankers’ minds because the dirty secret they are hiding is that at all times they were dealing with investor money, much of which they stole. The assets on the balance sheet, the proceeds of insurance, CDS proceeds, and subservicer continuing payments after default (thus curing the default) all tell the story that has yet to be told in Court. Now with me practicing again with great lawyers like Danielle Kelley, William Gwaltney and Ian White, the story will be told.

BANKS ARE NOT MITIGATING LOSSES. THEY ARE AVOIDING LIABILITY TO INVESTORS, INSURERS AND THE GOVERNMENT

The only hope for the banks is getting a foreclosure sale that gives the further appearance that the reason the investor, the insurer, the credit default swap counter party, the U.S. Treasury and the Federal Reserve lost money was because of the vast number of defaults on mortgages. But even with the banks tricking and pushing borrowers into “default” [from a script written by BOA officers and lawyers --- "you have to be 3 months behind in your payments before we can consider modification" --- a criteria ABSENT from HAMP], the number of defaults and the amount the banks are reporting that investors lost don’t add up — and THAT is why you must be relentless in discovery..

The simple truth is that the banks that are dealing with the foreclosures and modifications stand to lose nothing if the loan results in a zero return to mitigate damages. They stand to lose everything if the loan is reinstated because of all that money they took from investors, insurers, CDS counterparties, the U.S. Treasury, and the Federal Reserve. BOA would not have made it a policy to lie, cheat and deceive borrowers until they ended up in foreclosure unless it was in their interest to do so. What reason would that be other than the one postulated by this paragraph?

“Servicer shall promptly send a final modification agreement to borrowers who have enrolled in a trial period plan under current HAMP guidelines (or fully underwritten proprietary modification programs with a trial payment period) and who have made the required number of timely trial period payments, where the modification is underwritten prior to the trial period and has received any necessary investor, guarantor or insurer approvals. The borrower shall then be converted by Servicer to a permanent modification upon execution of the final modification documents, consistent with applicable program guidelines, absent evidence of fraud.” -HAMP

OCC: 13 Questions to Answer Before Foreclosure and Eviction

13 Questions Before You Can Foreclose

foreclosure_standards_42013 — this one works for sure

If you are seeking legal representation or other services call our South Florida customer service number at 954-495-9867 and for the West coast the number remains 520-405-1688. In Northern Florida and the Panhandle call 850-765-1236. Customer service for the livinglies store with workbooks, services and analysis remains the same at 520-405-1688. The people who answer the phone are NOT attorneys and NOT permitted to provide any legal advice, but they can guide you toward some of our products and services.

SEE ALSO: http://WWW.LIVINGLIES-STORE.COM

The selection of an attorney is an important decision  and should only be made after you have interviewed licensed attorneys familiar with investment banking, securities, property law, consumer law, mortgages, foreclosures, and collection procedures. This site is dedicated to providing those services directly or indirectly through attorneys seeking guidance or assistance in representing consumers and homeowners. We are available to any lawyer seeking assistance anywhere in the country, U.S. possessions and territories. Neil Garfield is a licensed member of the Florida Bar and is qualified to appear as an expert witness or litigator in in several states including the district of Columbia. The information on this blog is general information and should NEVER be considered to be advice on one specific case. Consultation with a licensed attorney is required in this highly complex field.

Editor’s Note: Some banks are slowing foreclosures and evictions. The reason is that the OCC issued a directive or letter of guidance that lays out in brief simplistic language what a party must do before they can foreclose. There can be little doubt that none of the banks are in compliance with this directive although Bank of America is clearly taking the position that they are in compliance or that it doesn’t matter whether they are in compliance or not.

In April the OCC, responding to pressure from virtually everyone, issued a guidance letter to financial institutions who are part of the foreclosure process. While not a rule a regulation, it is an interpretation of the Agency’s own rules and regulation and therefore, in my opinion, is both persuasive and authoritative.

These 13 questions published by OCC should be used defensively if you suspect violation and they are rightfully the subject of discovery. Use the wording from the letter rather than your own — since the attorneys for the banks will pounce on any nuance that appears to be different than this guidance issued to the banks.

The first question relates to whether there is a real default and what steps the foreclosing party has taken to assure itself and the court that the default is real. Remember that the fact that the borrower stopped paying is not a default if no payment was due. And there is no default if it is cured by payment from ANYONE after the declaration of default. Thus when the subservicer continues making payments to the “Creditor” the borrower’s default is cured although a new liability could arise (unsecured) as a result of the sub servicer making those payments without receiving payment from the borrower.

The point here is the money. Either there is a balance or there is not. Either the balance is as stated by the forecloser or it is not. Either there is money due from the borrower to the servicer and the real creditor or there is not. This takes an accounting that goes much further than merely a printout of the borrower’s payment history.

It takes an in depth accounting to determine where the money came from continue the payments when the borrower was not making payments. It takes an in depth accounting to determine if the creditor still exists or whether there is an successor. And it takes an in depth accounting to determine how much money was received from insurance and credit default swaps that should have been applied properly thus reducing both the loan receivable and loan payable.

This means getting all the information from the “trustee” of the REMIC, copies of the trust account and distribution reports, copies of canceled checks and wire transfer receipts to determine payment, risk of loss and the reality of whether there was a loss.

It also means getting the same information from the investment banker who did the underwriting of the bogus mortgage bonds, the Master Servicer, and anyone else in the securitization chain that might have disbursed or received funds in connection with the subject loan or the asset pool claiming an interest in the subject loan, or the owners of mortgage bonds issued by that asset pool.

If the OCC wants it then you should want it for your clients. Get the answers and don’t assume that because the borrower stopped making payments that any default occurred or that it wasn’t cured. Then go on to the other questions with the same careful analysis.

http://www.businessweek.com/news/2013-05-17/wells-fargo-postpones-some-foreclosure-sales-after-occ-guidance

/http://www.occ.gov/topics/consumer-protection/foreclosure-prevention/correcting-foreclosure-practices.html

California Trial Court INserts Reason Into Chaotic World of Foreclosure

Editor’s Comment: There is no question that the primary tactic of all pretender lenders in the false claims of securitization is that they should not have to prove the transactions. According to the banks they only have to bring a storybook to class that talks about the transaction. The story book consists of the original promissory note, deed of trust (mortgage) and alleged sales or transfers of the note or loan. These documents talk ABOUT the transaction in which money exchanged hands but here are no pictures showing the transaction itself — like a picture of me handing you $100 on a note you signed saying you owe me $100.

But what if you signed the note to get the loan and then I didn’t give you the loan? No money exchanged hands. The answer appears to be that I can still sue you as the holder of the note but the presumption that I am the owner of the note or that the note is evidence of the debt is rebutted by your testimony and denial of ever having received the money. So I can sue but I can’t win.

Suppose you got the real loan from someone else the same day. I could point to that transaction to show that you DID receive the money and if you didn’t know  how to handle that argument, you would end up paying off a loan you never received. Or you would point out to the Judge that the cancelled check is made out from someone else than me and that I failed to show privity or agency between me and the third party.

The problem is that in most cases, the storybook is a fairy tale. The payee never loaned the money and was a naked nominee along with MERs who was also a naked nominee, leaving no party in interest on either the note or the mortgage (deed of trust). Neither the designated “lender” nor the designated nominee holder of the security (MERS) handled, funded or accepted any money from the borrower.

The reason why the banks have gotten this far is that the illusion was complete when the money arrived at the closing table. It was assumed that the money came from the payee or secured party. It was further assumed that assignments and transfers of the loan would not have taken place unless there was proof of payment exhibited by the assignor. It never occurred to anyone that the money had not come from the originators but from an undisclosed third party whose name should have been on the note and mortgage. It never occurred to anyone, despite the clear provisions of TILA, that there was a duty to disclose to the borrower with whom he or she was dealing and how much they were making in profit or fees or other compensation out of this little loan. In some cases the profit exceeded the loan itself.

In Discovery, the principal thing you want to see is the proof of payment and proof of loss. The proof of loss is a showing that the holder actually paid money for the loan. In nearly all cases, no such transaction exists. Proof of payment is the same thing but together they require an answer to whether the trust still exists and whether the mortgage bond has since been renegotiated or sold or reconstituted into a different asset pool.

This is why most cases end in discovery. The bankers are the ones with unique access to the information you need, without which they submit a credible explanation of where the documents went, where they were last seen and to whom they were being sent. At some point, the bankers are forced to fess up that they don’t have the original note, they didn’t pay for the loan, they don’t own the loan, and thus have no right to submit a credit bid at auction. They will be forced to admit that the funding for the loan came from a third party undisclosed to Borrower and whose compensation was undisclosed to borrower, and that this was intentionally hidden from both the investor/lenders and the borrowers — for the sole purpose of collecting insurance and credit default swap money diverting it from the investors.

If the investors prove that they are entitled to the insurance and credit default swap money, then their loan balances will be correspondingly reduced with each dollar received (which they should have received in the first place). The investors’ receivable account would be correspondingly reduced which means that the receivable from borrowers would be correspondingly reduced since the creditor is not entitled to more than one payment. This in turn would have substantially reduced the principal due by borrowers, the number of “defaults”, the number of underwater borrowers and increased the number of settlements and modifications.

Further, the terms agreed to by the borrower were changed and contradicted by the conversion of the loan receivable to a bond receivable based upon indentures of a bond wherein a trust or REMIC was supposedly buying the loans.

But if you look for the actual monetary transaction between the trust and the party supposedly endorsing the note or selling the loan to the trust, the transaction in which money exchanged hands is entirely missing. No cancelled check, no wire transfer receipt, no wire transfer instructions, no ACH confirmation, no check 21 confirmation. It simply isn’t there which means that the investor money never funded the trust, and thus the trust lacked the funds to purchase the loans.

The bankers do a perfect two-step at this point. First they they ARE agents of the trust or REMIC and that is what made the transaction legal and enforceable, then they say they were NOT agents of the investors when it came to receiving insurance, credit default swaps proceeds or federal bailouts. I can find no support in the law of principal and agent that supports their position and I doubt if there is any such support.

In the case below, the bankers are essentially saying that for purposes of the discovery the claims of the borrower should be treated as a story book with no likelihood of success whereas the stories in the bankers’ comic book (i.e., the note and mortgage) should be taken seriously. The trial Court disagrees and lands squarely on its feet simply following common sense, precedent and existing rules. Discovery granted.

250068 – Taylor v. JP Morgan Chase
On 4 Dec.2012, Plaintiff served deposition notices for Deborah Brignac (hereafter “Brignac”) and Colleen Irby (hereafter “Irby”), officers of Defendant California Reconveyance Co. (hereafter “CRC”), along with a deposition notice for another person not involved in this motion, Luis Alvarado (hereafter “Alvarado”).  (Naicker Dec., ¶2, Ex.A).   Plaintiff set the depositions for 10 Jan.2013.  (Ibid.)  Defendants served objections on January 4, 2013, asking P to withdraw the deposition notices.  (Id., ¶4, Ex.B).  Defendants asserted that the depositions would cause unnecessary burden, expense, and intrusion which would outweigh the benefits of the discovery, arguing that certain of Plaintiff’s claims lacked merit, thus rendering the discovery unwarranted.  (Ibid.)  Defendants also objected on the ground that Plaintiffs had “unilaterally” served the deposition notices with a chosen date without first meeting and conferring with Defendants about acceptable dates.  (Ibid.)  Defendants move to quash the deposition notices of Brignac and Irby, or, in the alternative, to issue a protective order. Defendants argue that Brignac and Irby can have no information likely to lead to discovery of admissible evidence because Brignac only signed an assignment (the 1st Assignment) of the deed of trust (Deed) which was rescinded and Irby’s sole alleged role was to sign the subsequent assignment  (2nd Assignment), and Plaintiff’s claims regarding the conduct in which they may have been involved, are invalid.
Plaintiff opposes this motion, arguing that the deponents both possess likely relevant information because they are officers of CRC, they both signed assignments of the Deed involved in this case, so were personally involved in Plaintiff’s transactions at some point, and Plaintiff needs information on the murky transactions amongst the Defendants, about which he is otherwise unable to obtain information.
A party may serve written objections or risk waiving any problems with a deposition notice.  (Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.410(a)).  A party may also file a motion for an order staying the deposition and quashing the deposition notice.  Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.410.  A “deposition is stayed pending determination of motion.”  (Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.410(c)).
A party may “promptly” seek a protective order before, during, or after a deposition.  (CCP section 2025.420).
On a motion for a protective order, the court, “for good cause shown, may make any order that justice requires to protect any party… from unwarranted annoyance, embarrassment, or oppression, or undue burden and expense.”   (Code of Civ. Proc. § 2025.420).   The burden of proof is on the party seeking the protective order to demonstrate “good cause.”  (Emerson Elec. Co. v. Sup.Ct. (1997) 16 Cal.4th 1101, 1110).
Defendants’ arguments appear to be entirely groundless.  Defendant’s argue, essentially, that P’s claims are invalid on the merits so any deposition of these witnesses would be a waste of time and thus the burdens would outweigh the benefits.  That argument is completely invalid since there is no basis for a party to argue that another party has no right to obtain evidence supporting a claim simply because the claim may fail.  The appropriate methods for raising such arguments are demurrer, which has failed, or judgment on the pleadings, or summary judgment or adjudication and Defendants present no authority indicating that this is a valid basis for avoiding deposition.   Defendants also argue that the deponents will not likely provide relevant information because Plaintiff has been able to allege nothing more than the fact that they signed two assignments of his Deed.  This is unpersuasive since, as Plaintiff argues, he is not likely to have any information of the inner workings of the Defendant corporations absent discovery.  What Plaintiff has shown, and Defendants admit, indicates that these two witnesses clearly have at least some personal involvement beyond simply beyond being potentially knowledgeable officers, and thus are to some degree percipient witnesses to some of the events at issue in this action.  Defendants also argue that the notices are improper because Plaintiff served them without first warning Defendants that he was going to notice the depositions or without first obtaining an agreed deposition date.  These arguments are not supported by authority.
Accordingly, Defendant’s motion to quash and for a protective order is denied.
 
Sanctions
Code of Civil Procedure section 2025.420(d) states that on a motion for a protective order the court “shall” impose monetary sanctions on the losing party unless that party acted with substantial justification or other circumstances make sanctions unjust.
Both parties seek monetary sanctions.  In this case, the motion lacks merit and Plaintiff’s opposition was warranted.  Plaintiff seeks sanctions of $875 for about 2.5 hours spent at $350 an hour; Defendants seek sanctions of $3,460. The court awards sanctions to Plaintiff in the amount of $875.  Defendant’s request for sanctions is denied.

Walls Continue to CLose in On Banks in Courts Once Hostile to Borrower Defenses

McDonald v OneWest

This case should be read more than once

When I started writing about legal defenses to foreclosures that appeared patently fraudulent to me, I thought it might only take a few months for things to catch on. About the timing I have been consistently wrong. About the substance I have been consistently right.

Here again, the party seeking foreclosure not only failed in its current effort to do so, but was ordered to pay $25,000 within 7 days for forcing the homeowner’s attorney to fight tooth and nail for items that were or should have been at their fingertips, they had no reason to withhold, and should have been anxious to supply if the foreclosure was real.

The only potential error I see in the homeowner’s case is that  there appears to be an admission that Indy Mac was indeed the party who was the source of the loan — a fact which is nearly universally presumed and virtually always wrong in today’s foreclosures. Not knowing the actual facts of the case I can only speculate that this was an oversight, but it is possible that it wasn’t an oversight and that Indy Mac did in fact make the loan, booked it as a loan receivable, and then sold it into the secondary market for securitization.

There are several very important issues discussed rationally and without bias in this very well-written decision:

  1. Dates DO Matter: If the authorization to sign something is received after the signature is executed it isn’t any good. Lying about it and then fabricating documents to cover up the first lie are grounds for sanctions.
  2. Allegations of holder status are no substitute for facts and evidence. The supposed right to request it is not the same as holding, possessing or owning the note. Execution and recording of substitution of trustee, notice of default, notice of sale are all void if the party stated as the holder is not the holder.
  3. Ownership counts, which means that in order to submit a credit bid at a foreclosure action, the books and records of all the  relevant parties must be open to inspection and review to determine what balance, if any, exists, on the records of the owner of the debt — i.e., the party who would actually lose money if the loan was not paid, and the amount of the principal and accrued interest due, if any, after deductions for all receipts.
  4. Agency either exists or it doesn’t. And the paramount element of agency is control by the principal of the agent. There is, however, contractual obligations that come into play here. So if the investment bank received payments to mitigate damages on loans it either did so as agent for the investor or because they were contractually bound to do so as a vendor thus reducing the balance due on the bond. Either way, the balance due is reduced as to that creditor. It might be shifted to the party who paid who in turn might have a right of contribution unless they waived that right (which the insurance companies and CDS counterparts did in fact waive), but either way the new debt is no secured unless there was a purchase of the loan.
  5. Rules of Civil Procedure do matter and are “not optional.” If discovery requests, qualified written requests, debt validation letters are sent, answers are expected and due. The fact that the QWR is long does not mean it is invalid.
  6. Damages are possible, but you need to plead and prove them and that pretty much goes to whether these parties ever had any right to collect any money or enforce any note or any debt or enforce any mortgage against the homeowner. If the answer is yes, that if they get their act together, they can foreclose, there will likely be no damages. If the answer is no, which more likely than not is the case in current foreclosures, then damages properly pleaded and proven are easily sustained.
  7. Discovery is not a toy. The answer or the production is due.
  8. Hearsay is inadmissible and the business records exception, as stated by dozens of courts before this one, where the witness or declarant testifed for  “defendants chose to offer up what can only be described as a “Rule 30(b)(6) declarant” who regurgitated information provided by other sources” then we are taking hearsay and turning it into  evidence without any personal knowledge or testing of the truth of the matter asserted.
  9. Judges are not stupid. They know a lie when they hear it. But what happens after that depends upon the trial experience and knowledge of the lawyer. Don’t expect the Judge to go into orbit and give you everything just because he found that the other side lied. You still have a case to prove.

Washington J Lasnik Order Regarding MSJS

Banks Restarting Private Label “Securitizations”

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Comment: As we travel down the road of misguided policy and judicial decisions, the banks are starting up a major effort to sell more mortgage securities under private label, which means that (a) they are not required to register them with the SEC and (b) they will continue to veil the secret movement of money making it more difficult for any borrower to know the identity of the lender in a residential loan transaction, contrary to the requirements of Federal and State laws.

The whole purpose of the Truth in Lending Act was to give the consumer an opportunity to choose between one vendor of loans and another. The banks obliterated that choice in the first round of the mortgage meltdown and you can be sure that the only reason they are doing it again is because they intend to make the same gargantuan “profits” in this second round, so far, at $25 Billion.

One of the reasons why they feel emboldened to do this is because the basic laws have not been changed regarding the definition of a security, which excludes mortgage bonds and the hedges like insurance and credit default swaps, courtesy of laws passed in 1998. Another reason is that the Wall Street club still has enough strength to sell the mortgage bonds through intermediaries who trumpet higher returns for stable funds, which we have all seen went from stable in the layman sense to completely unstable and underfunded. The pension funds that got hit the hardest will be the first ones to announce that the pensioners are not going to get the full amount of their payments because of losses in the fund, vested or not.

The “qualified mortgage” regulations passed by the Federal Agency, which might lose its head literally if Cordray’s appointment remains rejected by the Courts, still have plenty of daylight in them to push through false appraisals and false data on the ability of the borrower to pay, and the viability of the loan over its entire term. The easily projected fall in prices to the values charted by Case-Schiller together with reset provisions on adjustable mortgages and “teaser” rates that could be paid only if the majority of the required payment was added on to the principal due on the mortgage, made the crash inevitable and remains unaddressed by law or regulations.

So despite the 0.1% contraction of the economy in the last quarter of 2012, we have the banks again ramping up to make trillions more while the economy stagnates from lack of oxygen — the money diverted from the economy by the banks whose officers have escaped prosecution and whose antics in corrupting the title system of the all the states, have created massive uncertainty over the end result.

Wall Street is allowed to exist as the engine of growth, stability and confidence in our economy. As intermediaries, they are required to meet the needs of the times in terms of providing capital in a capitalist society. Instead, they have become principals without anyone noticing. And their motive is not to intermediate but to make a profit, taking advantage of every loophole in laws, rules or the enforcement thereof. A receding economy won’t stop the banks from making money as long as they are permitted to lie.

If the economy is contracting, Wall Street activity should be expected to drop as the need for capital declines. Instead we see that over the last 4 years and we will see over the coming four years and beyond, an increase in profits for Wall Street firms which are owned by shareholders and directed by officers whose main goal is to create and enlarge their own wealth.

A lot of this has been made possible by the average citizen who can’t be expected to understand the complexities of finance or the law. Of paramount importance in the process is the shame heaped upon borrowers who are all seen as deadbeats despite all evidence to the contrary. And lastly, all this is possible because of the general assumption, often mistakenly used as a conclusive presumption in court, that the borrower received a loan, didn’t pay it back, therefore is in default and based upon the terms of their contract, their homes are sold at auction to satisfy as much of the debt as possible.

The idea that the money demanded as the balance of principal and interest due might be totally misstated, and that the repayment provisions loan is NOT represented by the note and mortgage (or deed of trust), seems impossible to both borrowers and judicial participants alike. The banks laid a trap in setting up bad paperwork because there was no real paperwork that would actually track the movement of money in bona fide transactions with money exchanging hands. Lawyers and pro se litigants cried foul and yet the foreclosures kept proceeding because the judge figured that the bad behavior of the banks was a separate matter from the “obvious” fact that the borrower took a loan and didn’t repay it.

It’s true that the money arrived at the closing table, but beyond that, there is nothing but misdirection, lies and fraud. The money arrived at the closing table from a source that was never disclosed to the borrower, preventing the borrower from any choice in the matter.

The nominee used to play the part of “lender” was not even allowed to touch the money — Wall Street having determined that some “originators” might find it too tempting to let the tens of millions going through their own account go by without skimming some of it or even taking all of it. Wall Street thought this way because it was what they were doing when they sold the original mortgage bonds.

The money was never put in a trust, as specifically provided for  in the enabling documents which might or might not have legally created a common law trust. The bankers took out as much as 1/2 of the investor money as trading profits when they arranged fictitious sales of actual and fictitious loans to the unfunded trust without consideration. The consideration was passed from investors directly to the investment bank that underwrote the sale of the mortgage bonds.

The balance of the investor money was used for fees and costs that were problematic at their best and then finally the balance was used to fund loans (and bets against the loans) that were completely undocumented in terms of the actual financial transactions that took place. None of the paperwork upon which the banks rely in reporting their assets or enforcing invalid notes and mortgages is supported by any transaction in which the named parties exchanged actual money. Thus none of the paperwork could be considered valid or enforceable (lack of consideration). They can sue but they can’t win if the borrower denies the transaction, the note, the debt, the mortgage and lays claim to false disclosures.

The banks understood this fatal error and thus created massive efforts at robo-signing, surrogate signing, fabrication, forgery, and fraud in supporting the alleged transfer of the loan from a nominee who originated the loan but who never funded the loan, up the false securitization chain. In simple words the mountain of paperwork produced by the banks covers a cup that is empty. There was no money involved in ANY of the transactions from origination through assignments that were offered but could not be accepted because they were specifically prohibited by the PSA and Prospectus.

Lawyers and pro se litigants went down the rabbit hole after the false paperwork leaving the judge with the simple proposition that there was a loan, it wasn’t paid back, and therefore the enforcement provisions apply. Nobody asked WHY there was need for false paperwork. What was the false paperwork hiding?

It was hiding an empty cup in which the borrower signed loan documents and never received a loan pursuant to those documents. The borrower received a loan from other parties whose identity was intentionally concealed, and if the various compensation and profit and fees had been disclosed as required by TILA the borrower would have been alerted tot he fact that half or all of his loan was generating fees, profits and costs either equal to or even more than the loan itself. Even an unsophisticated borrower confronted with these facts would get nervous about a transaction where he knew that the real parties were making excessive profits had this been disclosed as required by law.

Hence our strategy of DENY and DISCOVER, which will be the subject of tonight’s discussion on the member teleconference. If you go after the money first, demanding proof of payment and proof of loss you stand a good chance of knocking out both the filing of the foreclosure and the ability of the forecloser to submit a credit bid — simply because they are not the creditor. By going after the money first, the attack on the paperwork becomes both relevant and corroborative of the principal attack over consideration between the borrower and nominee lender who seemed to be the lender at the closing of the loan.

If you assume all of the above is correct, then it is malpractice for any lawyer to admit the debt, the security, the balance due, the note, the mortgage and the enforceability of the note and mortgage. And it is malpractice for a lawyer doing real estate closings to fail to question title and demand a guarantee of title from a qualified source.

As seen in California this will cause even a non-judicial state to  go judicial in practice because the forecloser has a case to prove and in most cases it can’t because it can never show that it ever took the loan in as a loan receivable — which in accounting, is inevitable because there is no place for an entry debiting a cash or other asset account to make the loan.

The entire loan is off balance sheet and solely appears on the income statement as a fee for service transaction in which the apparent lender was really a nominee for undisclosed parties who promised the real lenders one set of terms in the bogus mortgage bonds and an entirely different set of terms in the note signed by the borrower which was unsupported by consideration.

The bottom line is that the discovery should be directed at all parties who have knowledge of the actual transfer of money and documents, including internal documents. The Master servicer, the investment banker, the Trustee of the so-called trust should all be subpoenaed if necessary to determine what records they have and who handled them. And the principal record you want to see is a copy of a canceled check or wire transfer receipt (and wire transfer instructions).

‘Private Label’ Gains Appeal in Mortgage Market
http://blogs.wsj.com/developments/2013/01/29/private-label-gains-appeal-in-mortgage-market/

Peeling the Onion: Morgan Stanley Forced to Produce Documents Corroborating Illegal Acts

CHECK OUT OUR EXTENDED DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Comment and Practice Tips: There are two things you should know going into foreclosure defense. One is that the best decisions on the trial and appellate level came from cases where both sides were institutional in nature. So if the adversaries were both banks, or one was a managed fund, or perhaps a Homeowners or Condominium Association, the Court was a lot more receptive to the same arguments they routinely rejected from Borrowers. That alone suggests some strategies both for investors and homeowners (particularly those hard hit by the mortgage meltdown). The second is that an increasing number of courts are, in the words of one judge who WAS ruling routinely against borrowers, “getting tired of the sloppiness” with which the loan deals were originated, allegedly transferred and claimed as owned by one of a number of parties. They are entering more orders requiring proof of loss, proof of payment and proof that any financial transaction took place in which the forecloser was either the recipient (payee) or the payor of actual money that exchanged hands.

We have seen how the same homeowner with the same property has been assaulted by two completely different “holders”, neither of whom were creditors, each claiming to be producing the original note — and there it was in all its glory, two “original” notes both of which had been printed the previous day on a very good printer. We have seen how the appraisals went further and further off the reservation under pressure from the banks and how the applications were changed under pressure from the banks to close the deal regardless of outcome or viability of the loan.

Strategically I have been encouraging practicing attorneys to pay close attention to the dozens of lawsuits filed against the banks by institutional plaintiffs — pension funds that bought bogus mortgage bonds, government agencies whose findings might be incorporated as fact in your case (especially if the case settled), HOA’s and banks fighting over priority of liens. The facts alleged are fairly uniform — all leading to the conclusion that the loans were neither underwritten in conformity with industry standards (leading to fraud or breach of contract actions) nor supported by documentation that is enforceable (i.e., the mortgage lien was never perfected and the note was incorrectly fabricated and executed without consideration from the named payees or nominees.

The latest rumble over the lack of prosecution on this mortgage mess has produced the resignation of the guy at DOJ who was supposed to be prosecuting these cases. Maybe the change will come. But by this time int he Savings and Loan scandal of the 1980″s there were more than 800 people sitting behind bars with others on probation. The PBS piece “Untouchables” has kicked up a fore storm over the issue of criminal prosecution. Those cases too should be watched carefully and your wording in your pleading ought to be as close to their wording in their lawsuits especially where they have already survived the usual motion to dismiss.

Robert Schiller the economist who created the black letter basis for measuring economic data relating to the housing industry says we are far from done with the damages and debris left by the mortgage meltdown. And out of 105 economists who participated in an independent survey very few had anything good to say about housing or the economy — with the two inextricably entwined. Fixing housing is not merely about stopping foreclosures or increasing modifications. At the heart of the mortgage meltdown was fraud.

And fraud comes in two flavors — civil and criminal. Both require receivers and restitution if prosecuted properly. Investors and homeowners alike are entitled to receive as much restitution as possible that can be clawed back by properly appointed court receivers. Both were decided by appraisal fraud, by deceptive disclosures in which the actual lender was intentionally concealed so that the investment bank could claim ownership and buy insurance payable to the bank instead of the investors, buy credit default swaps with the same result, and apply for Federal bailout with the same result.

Housing won’t be fixed until the corruption of title caused by a nominee on the mortgage and nominee on the note is fixed and settled. The economy won’t be fixed until investors get their share of the insurance and bailouts. The consumer sector won’t be fixed until all that is done, because it is only after the money is allocated to the investors that we can know the actual balance due, if any, on any of the loans.

One thing we know at this point is that most foreclosures (at least 65% according to the San Francisco study) are initiated by “strangers to the transaction” who were not creditors, holders or anything else that would entitle them to enforce the closing documents on a loan that came not from the named payee but from another source entirely. We know that the “credit bid” submitted at auction was pure fiction and fraud and should be corrected in the property records. And we know that the the proceeds of insurance, credit default swaps and federal bailout should be applied to the receivables owed to the investors. Lastly, we know that when those monies are allocated the balance due on those receivables will be far less than what has been or will be demanded from borrowers in past, present and future foreclosures.

 

NY Times: Morgan Stanley Forced to Reveal Truth

They Just Don’t Get It: Meltdown Primer

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

For assistance with presenting a case for wrongful foreclosure, please call 520-405-1688, customer service, who will put you in touch with an attorney in the states of Florida, California, Ohio, and Nevada. (NOTE: Chapter 11 may be easier than you think).

Editor’s Analysis: Reynaldo Reyes, the asset manager for Deutsch that pretends to be a trustee of non existent unfunded trusts said it best: “it’s all very counter-intuitive.” In reality he was giving a clue. It isn’t that we haven’t yet unravelled the tangled web of deceit and exotic financial instruments and absurd risk taking. It all boils down to one thing: it doesn’t make sense, it was illegal from the start and it will never make sense. The reason it is counter intuitive is that there is no explanation except lying, cheating, stealing and cover-ups.

Whether you start from the top down, the bottom up or even start in the middle and spread out to the top and bottom, there is no connection between the money trail, the promises and representations made, and the document trail which proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that theft, breach of fiduciary duty, breach of contract, fraud, theft and cover-up were at the heart of what Wall Street called a securitization plan but which in practice was not securitization of credit but rather a PONZI s scheme completely dependent upon more investors buying bogus mortgage bonds. The crash didn’t happen because of mortgage de faults. It happened because investors stopped buying the bogus mortgage bonds. That is the red flag on all Ponzi Schemes. When people stop buying and start demanding their money back, the scheme collapses.

Under normal circumstances, the perpetrators — Madoff, Dreier, Stanford et al — go to jail, a receiver is appointed and the receiver does the best job possible of clawing back all the illicit gains, profits and accounts of the perpetrators. That is what should happen with he mortgage mess but that would mean admitting that the judicial system let millions of foreclosures go through the system because of bad lawyering, bad representation by pro se litigants and bad practices by the bench which failed to see the correct chain of title and then failed to inquire why not. —-

YES that IS the way it was. When I represented banks and HOA foreclosing on their liens, if I didn’t have my paperwork in order, the Judge sent me back to do it right — even if the other side didn’t show up. Why? Because the Judge understood that bad paperwork means bad title and that dozens of others could be effectively defrauded by allowing a bad foreclosure to proceed to sale, allowing an unproven creditor to submit a credit bid, and allowing a homeowner who legally still owned the home after the foreclosure to be evicted.

Back in those days certain presumptions applied — legal or informal — that the debt was real, the note was valid, and the mortgage was perfected. it was further correctly assumed that the borrower was in default.

The problem is that the old presumptions and assumptions remain while the facts are wildly different than the old-style foreclosures. Instead of the Judge being able to peruse the documents behind the mortgage, he must either accept the proffer of the facts from the lawyers for the foreclosing entity or have an evidentiary hearing, which he certainly doesn’t want on his calendar because all his other cases would pile up in a bottle neck. Thus lying in court became an acceptable substitute for having the right verifiable paperwork.

People ask me — how do I prove this? Lawyers ask me the same question. My answer is spend the daily rate for Lexus-nexus and get cases on point in your jurisdiction. They will say that where the facts and documents are uniquely within the knowledge and custody of the the defendant, the appropriate remedy is discovery and that the respondent to discovery has a higher duty to provide clear, concise and  extensive answers. In short, the burden of persuasion changes to the the foreclosing party — whether you are in a judicial or non-judicial venue.

Any other approach would have the Judge making findings in the absence of real evidence and actual facts, which is exactly the problem in the current judicial climate, although the tide is definitely turning in many states.

A quick look at the reality of the Ponzi scheme reveals the true nature of the illegality that the regulators and law enforcement faced, understaffed and underfunded against a well staffed and over-funded banking sector.

Let’s start in this article from the top. There the investment banking firm forms what appears to be a REMIC trust and they create a selling entity to put some distance between the investment banking firm and the actual sale. The sale takes place, to wit: the investors gives the investment banking money and the investor gets either a certificate (rarely) or some acknowledgment ina statement that the investor is now the proud owner of an interest in a REMIC trust governed by the REMIC provisions of the internal Revenue Code, which allows the REMIC trust to be a tax-exempt entity meaning the flow of funds from investments by the REMIC will only be taxed once even though it is coming through another entity. If that were true, there would be no problem. The problem is that it is not true and for the most never was true and never was the intent of the banks.

So to recap thus far, the money went from the bank account of the investors to the bank account of the investment bank or to an entity wholly controlled by the investment bank. Where it did NOT go was into a trust account wherein the Trustee for the REMIC pool would collect and disburse all funds, receipts and disbursements as set forth in the investor prospectus and pooling and service agreement.

If you look at the Taylor Bean and Whitaker setup, you’ll see, as Dan Edstrom has pointed out, that the money was instead put into a vast commingled account which they called a custodial account, but they never state for whom they are the custodian. And that is because they were skimming the money in a tier 2 yield spread premium and other “proprietary trading” also known as three pocket Monty — you take the money out of one pocket to transfer it to another pocket but on the way a few dollars drops into a secret third pocket. This vast Superfund was used as a TBW piggy bank as well as the source of funding for mortgages.

Without getting into the farce of “proprietary trading” being the cover for outright theft of investors money, let’s look at what happened next with the money.

People with the right connections were told to create mortgage origination companies. These companies would act as the payee on the note and the secured party on the mortgage or deed of trust, but they would never ever be allowed to touch the actual funding of the mortgage nor would they have the right to make a loan that would fall under the provisions of the assignment and assumption agreement signed with the aggregator (Countrywide, for example). SO XYZ company is created and they have a bank account and all that but the funding of the mortgage never touches the bank account of XYZ or any person associated with XYZ. The simple reason is that Wall Street being composed largely of thieves, understood that when the balances became high enough in the originators accounts, many if them would abscond with the money. So the wire transfer was made directly from the Superfund account (euphemistically referred to as a warehouse credit facility set up solely at the discretion of the aggregation (e.g. Countrywide.).

It was the coincidence of timing that convinced the closing agent and the borrower that the money had come from the “lender” identified on the disclosure paperwork and in the note and mortgage, when in fact, the originator was a mere nominee working for a fee. The originator could not under generally accepted accounting rules, book the transaction as a loan receivable because there was no offsetting entry debiting a cash account or other account over which the originator had control. The originator had control over nothing — the underwriting, funding, approval of the loan was left to the undisclosed aggregator using a computer system designed explicitly for this purpose. Without approval from Countrywide, the originator was not permitted to communicate approval of the loan.

The real lender were the investors whose money had been diverted from the REMIC trust into the Superfund. This created a common law partnership instead of a REMIC trust. This partnership with no name was the lender but the banks made sure that the true lender in an obviously illegal table-funded transaction was never disclosed. As far as the closing agent and borrower were concerned the coincidence of having the money there at the same time as the closing with the originator was proof of enough about what was going on. After all, who would send money for a mortgage transaction unless they thought they were getting a valid enforceable note and a mortgage or deed of trust securing the provisions of that note, which was valid evidence of the debt.

Unfortunately for the investors, the banks had other ideas than using the money the way they promised in the prospectus and pooling and servicing agreement, and they had other plans than protecting the investors enforceable rights under a valid promissory note, and they had a different idea about securing a note payable to the investors with the investors having a perfected mortgage lien against the property.

Bottom Line: The wire transfer receipt shows a loan emanating from the Superfund and that the money from the Superfund was advanced by the investors, but other than the wire transfer receipts there was not a shred of documentary evidence showing that the investors were going to be repaid under the terms of the mortgage-backed bonds in the REMIC because the mortgage bonds never made into the REMIC and their money never  made it into the largely or completely unfunded REMIC trust.

On the contrary, the documents produced by the originator under direction of the aggregator who was functioning under the thumb of the investment banks, all tell a wildly different story. According to the documents, the originator made the loan and assigned or sold it to the aggregator who sold it to the REMIC, which presumably protected the investors in a round about way even if it was a lie. The main problem with the bank’s version of the story is that XYZ never got paid for the loan or mortgage in a transfer or assignment transaction. And the aggregator never got paid by the REMIC trust for the loans either. The lack of consideration is not merely a technicality but rather part of a larger plot to steal from investors and homeowners.

The trust reposed in the banks by investors and homeowners alike basically was like putting red meat in front of a lion. The reason for the subterfuge was that the banks wanted to and did in fact get away with borrowing the loss of the investors by pretending to be the owner of the loans for a temporary period of time. By doing that they had what appeared to be ownership, proof of loss, albeit without any proof of payment. Now the insurers and credit default swap parties are hip to this trick and suing the investment banks.

The net result is that the actual financial transaction is largely undocumented, unsecured, and unenforceable in terms of method of repayment. The debt to investors (not the REMIC trusts) exists — less the insurance, CDS and bailouts received by the agents of the investors — but it is not documented. Conversely, the documented transaction lacks consideration of any kind, thus describing a financial transaction that never actually occurred. Any assignment therefore was pure lies and hype, since the reference was to originating documents that were procured by misrepresentation or fraud, without consideration, and obviously no perfected lien, which is not subject to nullification of instrument.

The banks and regulators and law enforcement don’t like my explanation because it would require them to do their work, and the people in charge of the banks to go to jail, costing a could of hundred millioin dollars to prove the case against the right people. Whether they like it or not, the regulators and law enforcement needs to do their job or face recriminations from the public once the true nature of this scheme is fully revealed. And make no mistake about it. I am not the only one who knows. The truth is coming out and that is why Judges are turning.

Credit Bids and Claims for Overage or Wrongful Foreclosure by Borrowers

INTERESTING NUCLEAR OPTION: “A credit bid submitted by anyone, whether authorized or not, might well be an admission (or at least a question of fact allowing the homeowner to go forward in discovery) that the amount owed was far less than the amount demanded in the Notice of Default and demands for collection. The point is not just that the foreclosure could be overturned or that an overage was created for the benefit of the borrower (because the creditor is only entitled to the amount owed). This issue could lead to the holy grail of discovery requiring the forecloser and other players in the securitization chain to produce the transactions that paid off part or all of the amount due the investor and therefore part or all of the amount due from the borrower.” — Neil F Garfield, http://www.livinglies.me

Editor’s Note: This is a puzzle and I am wondering if it might have some significance. The legislature has clearly enunciated the premise that they do not want any creditor to get a windfall at the expense of the borrower. (see below). The case below is a commercial case in which the object for the Bank was to get a deficiency judgment — something that Arizonians and residents of most states don’t need to worry about. But the rest of the discussion is applicable to residential foreclosures and trustee sales.

The credit bid that is submitted is often under Fair  Market Value. I am wondering if that can be turned around to say that the higher amount of fair market value minus the credit bid might be an overpayment. The credit bid is supposed to be the amount that is owed.

“The primary purpose of the statute is to “prohibit a creditor from seeking a windfall by buying property at a trustee’s sale for less than fair market value.” First Interstate Bank of Ariz., N.A. v. Tatum & Bell Ctr. Assoc., 170 Ariz. 99, 103, 821 P.2d 1384, 1388 (App. 1991). Because of the nature of a trustee’s sale, the statute does not contemplate that the purchase price will necessarily reflect the fair market value of the property. Dewey v. Arnold, 159 Ariz. 65, 70, 764 P.2d 1124, 1129 (App. 1988). For this reason, the statute requires a determination by the court of the fair market value before a deficiency judgment may be awarded. A.R.S. § 33-814(A). The court is directed then to subtract from the amount owed the higher of the sales price or the fair market value. Section 33-814(A) defines fair market value as:

[T]he most probable price, as of the date of the execution sale . . . after deduction of prior liens and encumbrances with interest to the date of sale, for which the real property or interest therein would sell after reasonable exposure in the market under conditions requisite to fair sale, with the buyer and seller each acting prudently, knowledgeably and for self-interest, and assuming that neither is under duress.

There is no requirement of which I am aware that the creditor submit the bid at the amount owed, but there is a question of fact as to why they would bid anything else. Is the credit bid an admission that despite prior declarations of default and demands, the real amount owed was less than what had been used?

If that is the case, then is it possible that the issue of fact can be raised as to exactly what was really owed. If that opens the door to a full accounting it might be an admission that the “creditor” received mitigating payments from co-obligors like insurers and counterparties on credit default swaps.

That in turn would be the basis for an attack on the sale in that the Notice of Default and the redemption rights of the borrower were all affected by lies about the amount owed. If the amount owed was really as low as the bid, then did the forecloser get a windfall? Was the borrower prevented from submitting a meaningful proposal for modification since the “Creditor” withheld information about the real balance due.

Discovery might well lead to the conclusion that the figure used was, as Charles Koppa concluded, the amount reported to the investors after computations made by the Master Servicer. That can of worms would lead to the possibility that what they reported to investors was also a lie and that in fact they had been paid multiple times on behalf of the true “creditor.” Thus the action for overturning a foreclosure under a wrongful foreclosure pleading becomes enhanced. If the amounts received through insurance and other means exceed the debt, then the “creditor” was wrong in foreclosing because there was no balance due that was secured by the mortgage or deed of trust.

http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?q=%22Appellants+Mike+and+Linda+Chase%22&hl=en&as_sdt=2,10&case=12267603999973988233&scilh=0

From Ken McLeod:

I missed this decision……bolds are mine.  I know it was a judicial sale but the Court did take notice of credit bids being lower that reasonable value of the property

 

Paragraph 4:  ¶ 4 After MidFirst filed its lawsuit, Palo Desert filed for bankruptcy protection. MidFirst obtained an order lifting the automatic stay in the bankruptcy, and a trustee’s sale was held in March 2010. MidFirst purchased the property at the trustee’s sale for a credit bid[3] of $486,000. MidFirst then moved for summary judgment against the Chases, seeking a deficiency judgment of $1,325,044.09. The Chases argued that there was no deficiency because the “value of the Property far exceeds anything that could be owed on the Loan.” The trial court granted MidFirst’s motion, finding that no genuine issue of material fact existed as to the fair market value of the property. The court stated that the Chases’ “contention that the property is worth more than the credit bid is purely speculative, has no foundation, and is based on a date far in the future, not as of the date of the trustee sale. No reasonable juror could find for [the Chases] on the issue of fair market value based upon the record presented herein.” The trial court also granted MidFirst’s request for attorneys’ fees of $80,550.91.

Paragraph 6:  ¶ 6 The Chases contend, inter alia, that the amount realized at a trustee’s sale does not fairly indicate the fair market value of the property conveyed, and that summary judgment granted to MidFirst solely on the basis of the credit bid was inappropriate.

Paragraph 9: Therefore, because the Chases were entitled to a determination of the fair market value of the property, we hold that the trial court erred in finding that MidFirst was entitled to judgment as a matter of law as to its entitlement to a deficiency judgment in the amount sought in its summary judgment motion. Section 33-814(A) requires that a deficiency judgment equal the amount owed minus either the fair market value of the property on the date of the sale or the sale price, whichever is higher. MidFirst only presented evidence of the credit bid, and no evidence as to the value of the property. On these facts, summary judgment was improper.

 

Cancellation of Void Instrument

Consider this an add-on to the workbook entitled Whose Lien is It Anyway also known as Volume II Workbook from Garfield Continuum Seminars.

Several Attorneys, especially from California are experimenting with a cause of action in which an instrument is cancelled — because it throws the burden of proof onto the any party claiming the validity or authenticity of the instrument.

I have been researching and analyzing this, and I think they are onto something but I would caution that your pleadings must adopt the deny and discover strategy and that you must be prepared to appeal. There is also a resurgence of tacit procuration doctrines, in which the receiver of communication has a definite duty to respond.

Here is Part I of the analysis: There will be at least one more installment:

Cancellation of Void Instrument

In most cases loans that are later subject to claims of securitization (assignment) are equally subject to cancellation. There are potential defenses to the motion or pleading demanding cancellation of the instrument; but if framed properly, the motion or pleading could be utilized as an advanced discovery tool leading to a final order. This is particularly true if a RESPA 6 (Qualified Written Request) precedes the motion or pleading.

Cancellation of a void instrument is most often directed at a Mortgage or Deed of Trust that is recorded. The elements of cancellation of an instrument include that the document is void (not just the recording). That means that what you are saying is that there is nobody in existence with any legal right, justification or excuse to attempt to use or enforce the document.

I believe that it requires the pleader to allege that the parties on the instrument are unknown to the Pleader in that there never was a financial transaction between the pleader and the the other parties mentioned and accordingly the recording of the document is at best a mistake and at worst, fraud. The element of fraud usually is involved whether you plead it or not.  However the same principles and elements might well apply to the following:

Substitution of Trustee
Notice of Default
Notice of Sale
Deed recorded as a result of foreclosure auction
Judgment for Eviction or Unlawful Detainer
Mortgage Bond
Unrecorded instruments like promissory notes, pooling and servicing agreements, and mortgage bonds, credit default swaps etc.

Another word of caution: an existing document carries a certain amount of the appearance of authenticity and validity. That appearance may rise to an informal presumption by a Judge who believes he understands the “facts” of the case. The informal presumption might be elevated by state or federal statute that may describe the presumption as rebutable, or presumed to be rebuttable. In some cases, the rebutable presumption could be elevated to an irrebutable presumption, which might mean that nobody is permitted to challenge the validity or authenticity of the document. But even irrefutable presumptions are subject to challenge if they are procured by deceit or fraud in the inducement, or fraud in the execution.

The scenario assumed here is that no loan receivable was legally created because there was no financial transaction between the homeowner and whoever is on the note, mortgage or whatever document you are seeking to cancel. Where appropriate, the pleader can allege that they deny ever having signed the instrument to that it was signed with expectation that the parties designated as lender, beneficiary or payee never completed the transaction by funding.

It is probably fair to say that presumptions are only successfully challenged if the allegations involve fraud or at least breach of presumed facts or promises. A note is evidence of an obligation and is presumed to validly recite the terms of repayment of a legitimate debt. But it also possible that the note might be evidence of the amount of the obligation, but not its terms of repayment if the facts and circumstances show that the offer was unclear or the acceptance was unclear. In the case of so-called securitized loans, accepting the allegations made by foreclosers, the offer of the loan contained terms that were never communicated to the borrower. This is because an instrument containing the terms of repayment was at material variance with the terms recited in the note. The instrument received by the lender was a mortgage bond. And most importantly the lender and the borrower were never in direct communication with one another.

The interesting effect of the substitution of the mortgage bond for a loan receivable is that the mortgage bond is NOT signed by the homeowner and is no payments of principal and interest are due to the investor except from the REMIC issuing entity that never received any enforceable documents from the homeowner.

Nor were the terms for repayment ever disclosed to the homeowner. And the compensation of the intermediaries was not disclosed as required under TILA. This constellation of factors throws doubt, at the very least, as to whether the closing was ever completed even without the the funding. The fact that the funding never took place from the designated payee or “lender” more or less seals the deal.

You must have at the ready your clear argument that if the “trust” was the lender or any of its investors then the note should have said so and there would be no argument about funding, or whether the note or mortgage were valid instruments. But Wall Street had other plans for “ownership” of the loan and substituted a series a naked nominees or straw-men for their own financial benefit and contrary to the terms expressed to the investor (pension fund) and the homeowner (borrower).

Wire Transfer instructions to the closing agents tell another story. They do not show any indication that the transfer to the closing agent was for the benefit of the designated lender, whose name was simply borrowed by Wall Street banks in order to trade the “loans” as if they were real and as if the banks owned the bonds instead of the trusts or the investors. This could only have been accomplished by NOT having the investors money travel through the REMIC trust. Hence the moment of origination of the obligation took place when the homeowner received the money from the investors through accounts that were maintained by the banks not for the REMICS but for the investors. This means that investors who believe their rights emanate from the origination documents of the trust are mistaken because of the false statements by the banks when they sold the bogus mortgage bonds.

If that is the case, their is no perfected lien, because the only mortgage or deed of trust recorded shows that it is to protect the payee “lender” (actually a naked nominee) in the vent the borrower fails to make payments and otherwise comply with the terms of the note and mortgage. But the note and mortgage relate to an unfunded transaction in which at not time was any party in the alleged securitization chain the source of funds for origination, and at not time was there ever “value received” for any assignments, bogus or otherwise, robo-signed or otherwise.

It also means that the investors must be disclosed and that for the first time the homeowners and pension funds who actually were involved in the transaction, can compare notes and decide on the balance of the obligation, if any, and what to do about it. Allowing the banks to foreclose as servicer, trustee of an asset-backed trust, or in any other capacity is unsupported by the evidence. The homeowner, as in any mortgage foreclosure, is entitled to examine the loan receivable account from the item of origination through the present. If there is agreement, then the possibility of a HAMP or other modification or settlement is possible.

Allowing the servicers to intermediate between the investors and the homeowners is letting the fox into the hen-house. If any deal is struck, then all the money they received for credit de fault swaps and insurance might be due back to the payors, since the mortgages declared in default are actually still performing loans AND at present are not secured by any perfected lien.

Cancellation of the note does not cancel the obligation. In most cases it converts the obligation from one that provided for periodic payments to a demand loan. Success of the borrower could be dangerous and lead the borrower to adopt portions of the note as evidence of the terms of repayment while challenging other parts of the recitals of the note. Cancellation of the note would also eviscerate the promise of collateral which is a separate agreement that offers the home as collateral to secure the faithful performance  of the terms of the note. Hence the mortgage or deed of trust would be collaterally canceled merely by canceling the note.

If the note is cancelled, the action can move on to cancel the mortgage instrument. In the context of securitized loans it seems unlikely that there could be any success without attacking both the mortgage, as security, and the note, as evidence of an obligation. In its simplest form, the attack would have the highest chance of success by successfully attacking the obligation. If a lender obtains a note from a borrower and then fails to fund the loan, no obligation arises. It follows logically that the recitals of the note would then be meaningless as would the recitals in the mortgage. Having achieved the goal of proving the instrument as invalid or meaningless, the presence of the instrument in the county recorder’s office would naturally cause damage to other stakeholders and should be cancelled.

If the mortgage is in fact cancelled, then the next logical step might be a quiet title action that would have the court declare the rights and obligations of the stakeholders, thus eliminating any further claims based upon off-record transactions or the absence of actions presumed to be completed as stated in the instrument itself.

It must be emphasized that this is not a collateral attack or a flank attack on the obligation based upon theories of securitization, the pooling and servicing agreement or the prospectus. cancellation of an instrument can only be successful if the party who would seek to use the instrument under attack cannot substantiate that the instrument is supported by the facts.

The facts examined usually include the issues of offer, acceptance and consideration at the time of origination of the instrument under attack. A later breach will most likely not be accepted as reasons for cancellation unless the later event is payment of a debt. Failure to return the cancelled note would be a proper subject of cancellation if the allegation was made that the the obligation was completely satisfied. The presence of the original note after such payment and refusal or inability to return the note as cancelled is reason enough for the court to enter an order canceling the note. Any attempt to sell the note or assign it would be ineffective as against the maker of the note and could subject the assignor to both civil and criminal penalties.

Both payment and origination issues arise in connection with the creation of loan documents. The originator (and any successors) must be able to establish offer, acceptance and consideration. The signature element missing from most of the document chains subjecting all deeds of trusts, notes, mortgages and assignments to cancellation is the lack of consideration.

In a money transaction, consideration means money. If money was not tendered by the originator of the documents despite the requirements to do so as set forth in the documents, the putative borrower or debtor who executed the documents is entitled to cancellation.
In the case of securitized loans, the appearance of propriety is created by reams of documents that cover up the origination documents, giving the appearance that numerous parties agreed that the proper elements were present at the time of the origination of the loan. This has successfully been used by banks to create the informal presumption that the essential elements were present at origination — offer, acceptance and consideration.

The originator (or its successors) can easily avoid cancellation by simply establishing the identity of itself as the lender, the signature of the borrower, and the proof of a cashed check, wire transfer or ACH confirmation showing the payment by the originator to the borrower. In loans subject to claims of securitization and multiple assignments, they cannot do this because the original transaction was never completed.

The issue in securitized loans is that while wire transfer instructions exist and might even mention the borrower by name and could even make reference to the originator, the instructions always include directions on where to send the surplus funds, if any exist. Those funds are clearly not to be given or sent to the originator but rather back to the undisclosed lender, which makes the transaction a table funded loan defined as illegal predatory practices under the Federal Truth in Lending Act.

If the documents named the actual lender, then the offer, acceptance and consideration could be shown as being present. Originators may not “borrow” consideration from a deal between the borrower and another party and use it to establish the consideration for the closing loan documents with the originator. That would create two obligations — the one evidenced by the note and the other evidenced by the mortgage bond, that asserts ownership of the obligation.

Borrowers and creditors are restricted by one simple fact. For every dollar of principal borrowed there must be a dollar paid on that obligation. Putting aside the issue of interest on the loan, the creditor is entitled only to one dollar for each dollar loaned, and the borrower is only required to make a payment on an obligation that is due. The obligation becomes due the moment the borrower accepts the money or the benefits of the money, regardless of whether any documents are drafted or executed. The converse is also true — the creation, and even execution of documents does not create the obligation. It is only the actual money transaction that creates the obligation.

Stripping away all other issues and documentation at the time of origination of the loan, it can fairly assumed that in most of the subject cases of “securitization” that the originator was either not a depository institution or was not acting under its charter as a depository or lending institution. If it was not a lending institution, then it loaned money to the borrower out of its borrowed or retained capital — with the source of funds coming from their own bank account. Based upon a review of hundreds of wire transfer instructions, none of the non-lending institutions was the source of funds, yet their name was used specifically recited in the note as “lender.” The accompanying disclosure documents and settlement statement describes the “lender” as being the named originator. Hence, without funds, no consideration was present. If there was an absence of consideration for the documents that were putatively executed, then the documents are worthless.

The originator in the above scenario lacked two capacities: (1) it could not enforce the note or mortgage because it lacked a loan receivable account that would suffer financial damage and (2) it could not legally execute a satisfaction, cancellation or release of the obligation or the putative lien.  Such an originator at the moment of closing is therefore missing the necessary elements to survive a request to cancel the instrument at that time or any other time. No assignments, allonges, indorsements, or even delivery of the loan documents can improve the survival of the loan documents originated, even if some assignee up the chain paid for it.

Yet at the same time that there was no consideration from the originator, there was a loan received by the borrower. If it didn’t come from the originator, and the money actually arrived, the question is properly asked to identify the source of funds and whether that party had the capacity to enforce collection of the loan and could execute a release or satisfaction or cancellation of the note and mortgage. Here is where the hairs split. The source of funds is owed the money regardless of whether there was a note or mortgage or settlement documents or disclosures — simply because they do have a loan receivable that would be damaged by non-payment. But that loan receivable is not supported by any documentation that one would ordinarily find in a mortgage loan.

The creation of documents reciting a false transaction, “borrowing” the fact that the homeowner did receive funds from another source, does NOT create a second obligation. Hence the note, mortgage (Deed of trust) and obligation presumed in favor of the named originator must be cancelled.

Since the sources of funds are neither the owner of the loan, the payee on the note, the lender identified on the note, mortgage and settlement documents, they lack the power to enforce any of those documents and secondly, lack the power to cancel, release or satisfy a note or mortgage on which they are not the payee or secured party. Hence the fact that the borrower received funds gives rise to a demand obligation against the borrower to repay the loan. All the funding source needs is evidence of the payment from their bank account and the receipt by the borrower.

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