A NEW FACE in Government Activism in Securitization Scam

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Editor’s Comment:

Anyone who wants the job of being the county recorder takes a risk of being blamed for all the warts and defects that come out after they take office. So when somebody runs for public office without prior real estate experience like a Nurse, you know that community activism is on the rise and we all know why. The shell game and run-around that the banks and servicers are playing can only work so long.

The facts remain that the county recorders across the country fully understand that title is corrupted but they are mostly elected officials, a member of  a major political party and thus follow orders when told to do the Texas 2-step when it comes to removing illegal documents from the recording system or requiring proof of the authenticity of the documents and declarations in the documents.

We need many more people to run for office where it counts — the county level, get rid of the hacks who refuse to sue the banks for screwing up title, refuse to collect fees that are owed and would help the county budget, and refuse to hold those who submitted false filings accountable. THAT is where the banks have little influence. That is where they are weak politically. The lower the political office the less influence the bank has in preventing actions that would embarrass the mega banks.

Eventually the truth will all come out. It is seeping in through all the windows and doors. The logjam will break and we’ll know everything. And what we are going to find is that most mortgages were recorded without any transaction commenced between the the parties recited on the documents. We’ll find that the record is devoid of any real documentation between the real lenders (who might be impossible to determine with certainty because of commingling of funds in escrow accounts that ignored the existence of the REMICs). All that means is that the mortgages were fraudulently filed and therefore the foreclosures are invalid. There lies the path to salvation to our economy. Instead of the big boys getting a handout, the little people who were scrunched into the dirt by the boots of Wall Street titans are going to get a break.

Support with your money , effort and contacts and networking every candidate on the local level who runs for office on the platform of rejecting these illegal documents and throwing out the deeds of foreclosure based upon illegal mortgages and illegal, fabricated, forged and unauthorized documents.

Foreclosure Fraud Combatant Eyes Clerk of Court Role in Florida

By Jon Prior

Florida has been ground zero for foreclosure fraud, but even with multibillion-dollar settlements and federal consent orders, the state’s financial services industry may face new scrutiny from a community activist who’s taken a critical look at the industry and its practices.

Lisa Epstein, who’s running for clerk of court in Palm Beach County, was once an oncology nurse. For most of her career she saw her patients strike deals with their banks when they ran into debt problems, particularly with mortgage payments, once they became ill.

But when the housing crisis struck and foreclosures mounted, that changed. Banks and mortgage servicers overloaded with delinquent loans struggled with the paperwork and the complexity of linking struggling borrowers with decision-makers. To speed up the foreclosure process, reams of documentation was mishandled, signed improperly and filed at county courthouses.

In 2007, Epstein noticed her patients were no longer being helped. They were being rushed through the foreclosure system.

“That was my first hint that there was something very different,” Epstein said during a HousingWire interview.

So began her advocacy work in Florida fighting against banks and third-party firms handling the foreclosure process. In June, she was placed on the ballot for clerk of court of Palm Beach County, the third largest clerk office in the state.

If elected in August, she will be in charge of many things, including managing an overloaded docket, acting as treasurer and chief financial officer of the county’s funds, and most importantly, serving as the keeper of public record.

Her major focus will be on what she claims is a broken system, surrounding the cloudy chain of title flaws filed with the counties to this day. If state funding allows, she said she will perform wide-scale audits of the entire county database and develop reforms — even if that means shutting down the process entirely.

“I don’t know if it is fixable,” Epstein said. “But these are not truly legal instruments that convey proper property ownership. Conducting any sort of real estate transaction or sorting who really owns the loans in many cases will become an enormous legal burden because of the morass of documentation fraud.”

The Florida system remains a nightmare after the collapse of the Law Offices of David J. Stern in March 2011. Several other firms came under investigation and some settled claims before being shut down. The $25 billion foreclosure settlement involving 49 states (Oklahoma didn’t participate) includes language that will hold servicers accountable for any third-party firms that handle any aspect of a foreclosure filing.

Consent orders with the Office of the Comptroller and the Federal Reserve will also force servicers to monitor these firms, specifically Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems and Lender Processing Services ($23.87 1.23%).

New foreclosure filings in Palm Beach County increased in May by 3.6% from the previous month as servicers are looking to restart the process. The 1,356 new filings was 61% above levels seen in the year-ago period.

Both Epstein and incumbent Sharon Bock, who’s held the office since 2003 and is running for re-election, are concerned with keeping up because of pending budget cuts.

“We expect that our foreclosure division is one that will be heavily affected by these budget cuts,” Bock said in a statement accompanying the numbers last week. “My fear is if the trend of increased filings continues as it has in recent months, we will not have the ability to keep up with the volume. We will do our best, but it will be a challenge.”

Mortgage servicers have stated they’ve ended past robo-signing practices and are installing new policies to reduce risk in the system. Few, if any, borrowers, they claim, were foreclosed on improperly because of past flawed practices.

But the financial industry is watching this election closely. Should Epstein prevail, her appetite for audits and new investigations could wipe out any restart to an already backlogged foreclosure process.

Some county record keepers in other states already launched investigations of their own, some founded on faulty claims, but some may have real consequences. A report in one Massachusetts county claimed 75% of mortgage assignments were invalid. Another in San Francisco attempted to show similar results through an audit but shrivels under scrutiny through California case law.

The treasurer for the clerk of courts in two Michigan counties filed lawsuits against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to get fees levied during the recording of foreclosure property transfers. The GSEs used a government tax status to escape the fees, an exemption now being challenged.

Epstein said she would be on board with taking all of these actions and suggested the federal government go even further with a wide-scale probe. For this, Epstein is running into a lot of pushback. Her race against Bock has become one of the most heated in the local Florida elections.

“We have to solve a fraudulent process that is hurting our property value taxes, hurting our ability to do a short sale, hurting our ability to work with lenders,” she said. “It’s hurting the faith that there would be some protection. It’s damaging our court systems and yet our court systems are allowing this go on and on.”

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Short Sale No Protection Against Bank

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Editor’s Comment:

As if on queue this story appears. I have been warning buyers of short sales that they face strong headwinds in maintaining ownership of the house, keeping possession, and the general fact that buying a short sale probably is buying into litigation now or later.

This guy is a true innocent buyer without any real notice of the problems he was buying into. His realtor obviously didn’t tell him because the realtor’s compensation is based upon the sale closing. The title agent didn’t tell him for the same reason. And the bank selected as the ” designated hitter” to receive money and execute papers showing the old mortgage was satisfied and the foreclosure was over probably didn’t even know who to call or why because, like the originator at the original closing on the loan, was just a fee for service “satisfied” instead of a fee for service originator.

So the designated forecloser keeps proceeding — and in this case apparently foreclosed on the house without the new short sale buyer knowing a thing about it, evicted the tenants, which now included the shortsale buyer, and then broke in, removed all the personal belongings leaving this guy with a lawsuit for trespass and the loss of his furniture and personal belongings.

This will continue until we accept and act upon the fact that the foreclosures and the would-be originators of foreclosures have no right to even be at the table — same as when the old old loan was created.

KC Man Sues Bank Over Foreclosure Error

Claim: JPMorgan Chase Changed Locks, Seized New Owner’s Property

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A Kansas City man is taking on banking giant JPMorgan Chase, accusing the company of something that he said would have landed anyone else in handcuffs.

Allan Danforth bought a house in a short sale in fall 2010. JPMorgan Chase held the previous owner’s mortgage. Danforth said two months later, without notice, the bank changed the locks and hauled away $25,000 worth of furniture, appliances and family heirlooms.

“I had to bust in through the basement window here,” Danforth said, pointing to the house that he was forced to break into more than 18 months ago.

He said JPMorgan Chase’s contractor, Safeguard Properties, ignored “No Trespassing” signs on the garage, changed the locks on his home and cleaned it out two months after he paid cash for the property.

“It was basically stuff that was 150 years of family history,” Danforth said. “I feel violated and I felt like the house wasn’t even safe to go into for a while.”

Danforth said Safeguard Properties could find his family heirlooms. He said JPMorgan Chase just gave him a runaround.

“They’re the big bank and they don’t care,” he said.

“It’s a wrong built upon wrongs,” said attorney Tony Stein.

He said it’s a wrongful foreclosure.

“We fully intend to go into court and have a Jackson County jury try to decide the eventual outcome of this case in the only language JPMorgan Chase understands,” Stein said. “The language of money.”

In his lawsuit, Stein accuses JPMorgan Chase of theft, trespassing and reckless indifference.

Jackson County court records show that on Sept. 9, the previous homeowners transferred the house to Danforth. The bank signed off 12 days later.

“For the very company to release their deed of trust and thereby release all their rights against this property, and then two months later, send in a company to clean this thing out? You’ll have to ask them why they’d do something like that,” Stein said. “It defies logic.”

Danforth and his attorney said the bank has ignored their letters. When KMBC investigated the case, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan Chase had a response.

“We made a paperwork mistake when the property was sold, which resulted in our service partner changing the locks and winterizing the property to ensure its security,” the statement said.

The company did not comment how it plans to settle the dispute.

“I’m not the first one. I will not be the last, unfortunately,” Danforth said.

He said he has installed a security system in case of another “paperwork mistake.”

“If it were you or I doing it, we’d be sitting in jail right now,” Danforth said. “Why isn’t JPMorgan in jail?”

Safeguard Properties deferred comment to the bank.

Danforth’s lawsuit is before the Jackson County Court and claims actual damages in excess of $25,000. Under law, Stein said members of Danforth’s family could be entitled to recover as much as $1.5 million in punitive damages.

Danforth’s copies of important documents were inside the house and were taken by Safeguard Properties. Experts said in case of a fire or burglary, it’s a good idea to have copies of important documents in a digital form or a safety deposit box.


Foreclosure Strategists: Phx. Meet tonight: Make the record in your case

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Editor’s Comment:

Contact: Darrell Blomberg  Darrell@ForeclosureStrategists.com  602-686-7355

Meeting: Tuesday, May 15th, 2012, 7pm to 9pm

Make the Record

It appears the most rulings against homeowners are predicated on some arcane and minute failure of the homeowner to make the record.  We’ll be discussing how to make sure you cover all of those points by Making the Record as your case moves along.  We’ll also look at how the process of Making the Record starts long before you even think of going to court

We meet every week!

Every Tuesday: 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Come early for dinner and socialization. (Food service is also available during meeting.)
Macayo’s Restaurant, 602-264-6141, 4001 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012. (east side of Central Ave just south of Indian School Rd.)
COST: $10… and whatever you want to spend on yourself for dinner, helpings are generous so bring an appetite.
Please Bring a Guest!
(NOTE: There is a $2.49 charge for the Happy Hour Buffet unless you at least order a soft drink.)

FACEBOOK PAGE FOR “FORECLOSURE STRATEGIST”

I have set up a Facebook page. (I can’t believe it but it is necessary.) The page can be viewed at www.Facebook.com, look for and “friend” “Foreclosure Strategist.”

I’ll do my best to keep it updated with all of our events.

Please get the word out and send your friends and other homeowners the link.

MEETUP PAGE FOR FORECLOSURE STRATEGISTS:

I have set up a MeetUp page. The page can be viewed at www.MeetUp.com/ForeclosureStrategists. Please get the word out and send your friends and other homeowners the link.

May your opportunities be bountiful and your possibilities unlimited.

“Emissary of Observation”

Darrell Blomberg

602-686-7355

Darrell@ForeclosureStrategists.com

Objections and Preserving Your Rights on Appeal: From, Whose Lien Is It Anyway? by Neil F Garfield

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Editor’s Comment:

Foreclosure cases are won or lost on procedure more than on the merits of the case offered by either side. Lawyer and especially pro se litigants tend to use the right of appeal, as though it was a vehicle for entertaining evidence, objections or motions that should have been made. These make up a large percentage of the 85% of cases that are affirmed on appeal.[1]

The appellate court rarely has even the power to consider affidavits or other evidence that was not proffered and which does not show up on the record on appeal sent by the clerk of the court on the “trial” level. The appellate court is limited to what DID happen and not what SHOULD have happened. If the matter was properly raised in the lower court, then the matter may be considered by the appellate court. If not, then they must simply state that the grounds for appeal were not properly preserved for appeal and affirm the decision of the lower court Judge.

In foreclosure cases, most of the objections that should be made are known in advance and quite probably should be brought or offered as a motion in limine before the actual hearing, so that the complete focus of the court is on the issue that  would be presented by opposing counsel  and the objections raised by the borrower homeowner. In those cases, where the objections are known in advance, you should not only state that you have an objection, but the state the reasons for your objection and include a memorandum of law on the point, complete with copies of the most relevant cases.

Most of the errors that I see on the trial court level amounts to denial of due process in that the Court refuses to hear the merits or to allow the parties to conduct discovery. If that is the case in your case, you should mention it even though it is “fundamental error” that the appellate court could hear even without raising the objection contemporaneously with the subject of your objection.

This assures (along with the transcription from a court reporter) that everything about that objection was stated, presented and denied, if such is the case. It might also alert the Judge that you are ready to make such an appeal. If the objection is procedural relating to whether a proper foundation has been laid for the introduction of evidence, or whether the Court is accepting the proffer of counsel without any evidence in the record to support it, then you must make that point clearly and with support from citations in your own state. If the court refuses to hear the objections in limine then you still have the matters raised as part of the court record but you must raise the objection in the hearing or you might well have waived them unless your main point (ill advised) is that the court abused its discretion in denying the motion in limine without hearing it on the merits.

In every case I have seen reversed on appeal, there was something in the record that contradicted or nothing in the record that supported the position taken on appeal.

There are no magic words or bullets on objections. What is necessary is that you state it, without rambling on tangent subjects, with sufficient specificity so that the appellate court will understand in a flash what your objection related to, and what grounds and what law upon which you were relying. Do not combine objections. If you have more than one then state that you have 2 or more objections and proceed with the first.

The mistake I see in appeals and trial proceedings is that the attorney for the homeowner borrower remains silent while opposing counsel states facts that are not in the record (because there has not been an adversary proceeding and that you deny those facts, as they are in issue between the two sides). In many cases the Judge takes silence as a concession that the facts are true as stated and that your defense relates to something other than contesting the facts being proffered by opposing counsel.

The appellate court might agree, particularly if you are not clear in immediately identifying the fact that there was a real transaction in which money exchanged hands and then another event which involved the signing of papers but in which there was no actual transaction. The fact that the borrower believed the papers to be true while everyone else knew they were not, cannot now be used to further the fraud upon your client.

____________________

[1] It has been pointed out by some bankruptcy court judges that out of the three possibilities for appeal of a bankruptcy court ruling, petitioners and their counsel usually bypass the appeal laterally to the sitting District Court Judge charged with hearing civil cases with Federal jurisdiction and with hearing appeals from decisions made in the bankruptcy court. Sources tell us that the percentage of reversals and remand is possibly as high as 50% when brought to the District Judge rather than the BAP or Circuit Court of Appeals.

Now It’s the Servicers Betting Against Homeowners

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Editor’s Analysis:

Start with some premises that were speculation but are now known to be true. First, banks and servicers need as many properties in foreclosure as possible. There are many reasons. The banks want it because it covers up the outright bold lies they told investors to get them to “buy” non-existent mortgage bonds most of which involved either no paper certificate at all or they were simply not worth the paper they were written on. Second, the bankers (management) could make a killing depressing Market prices and then relieving the pressure when they wanted prices to go up. Third, servicers make far more money in fees as long as they are “servicing” a loan in default because their fees are higher on loans in distress. Fourth in many cases the servicers actually get to “own” the property if the foreclosure sale occurs.

The tactic used now is that if you miss a mortgage payment or even if you don’t, the servicer can say they were required to obtain insurance on their own because you didn’t. This is forced place insurance and nearly all of it is a bold-faced lie. Now the servicer adds to your mortgage payment the cost of forced place insurance even if they paid nothing. If you are on the edge, the cost of forced placed insurance (many times 3-4 times normal rates) is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. The result? Many homes that were otherwise current in their payments end up in foreclosure.

This can be stopped. On challenge, most servicers back off of forced place insurance claims, but getting them to stop the foreclosure is more difficult — usually because by the time the homeowner challenges the forced place insurance some scheduled payments have been missed. But upon further challenge it can usually be shown that the scheduled payments were in fact made by the servicer to the creditor, meaning that the declaration of a default and notice of sale were bogus — just like everything else in this mess.

Servicers incentivized to bet against homeowners, may hurt housing

by Tara Steele

Insurance policies are not often pointed to as the problem with housing, but one news outlet says homeowners are being pushed off of the foreclosure cliff by force-place insurance.

Force-placed insurance’s impact on housing

“Force-placed” insurance, or property insurance the bank takes out for homeowners who miss an insurance payment has recently come under fire by Bloomberg News Editors1 who say the policies cover less and cost more, and will likely end up putting homeowners into foreclosure regardless of the force-placed insurance policies.

Deeper analysis of the forced-place policies revealed that the loss ratio is much lower than expected, in other words, the percentage of premiums paid out on claims is severely low, paying out $0.20 cents on the dollar, when the average $0.55 cents on the dollar payout of most other types of policies. The implication is that the insurance companies are charging extremely high premiums, and when the policies actually pay out, they barely cover the bank’s losses.

Bloomberg reports that banks not only receive commissions on the forced-place policies, they make even more money by re-insuring them, so the bank takes out a policy to protect the property but is making a more lucrative bet that the policy will never pay out. Fannie Mae has already instructed servicers of Fannie-backed loans to reduce the cost of insurance premiums, but Bloomberg implies that these directives are weak and more can be done.

Although the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is looking into forced-place insurance, Bloomberg urges the CFPB to require all servicers to pick up the homeowner’s lapsed policy when possible, otherwise seek bids for lower cost options, and notes that Freddie mac should demand its servicers to get competitive bids on insurance policies.

The crux of the forced issue

The CFPB should investigate the commissions made by banks on these policies, says Bloomberg, as they are a major incentive to put homeowners into policies they cannot possibly afford. “Many homeowners who experience coverage gaps have severe financial problems that lead them to stop paying their insurance bills,” notes Bloomberg. “They are already at great risk of foreclosure. Banks and insurers shouldn’t be allowed to add to the likelihood of default by artificially inflating the cost of insurance.”

The Banks, Rushing To Foreclose So They Can Sit On Vacant Homes

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Editor’s Comment:

Author: 

These damn judges here in Florida, they really need to wake up, start working harder and grant more foreclosures more quickly.  Hurry up already, and stop whining about budget cuts and staff positions cut, and who cares that the entire state court system is funded by less than one percent of the state budget, and shut up about case loads that have tripled to 3,000 or more cases per judge and frazzled judicial assistant.  Just grant those damn foreclosure judgments….after all, everyone knows the economy cannot recover until these damn slacking judges push through this foreclosure backlog….right?

Oh wait a minute, there’s apparently a bit of a fly in this ointment.  You see, apparently the banks are cancelling foreclosure sales just as quickly as our good judges are able to sign those damn Final Judgments of Foreclosure…yup…apparently, now wait just a dadgummed minute.

You mean to tell me our elected circuit court judges are busy throwing families out into the streets just so the banks can amass ever larger portfolios of vacant and abandoned properties that they are apparently not responsible for taking care of?

Well shut my mouth!  You don’t say?  Really!  No way?  Do you mean to tell me we can’t blame all this on our under-funded judges and this ain’t the fault of those damn ethically-challenged foreclosure defense attorneys what with all their delay tactics and pesky rules and those absurd arguments about THE LAW…blah, blah, blah.

When exactly will this nation wake up and start directing appropriate anger and rage at the real evil that’s hard at work, everyday all across this sleeping nation?

From the Tampa Times:

It’s an oft-repeated pattern.

In the last 12 months, lenders have canceled auctions on 4,204 properties in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties. Sales have been canceled two, three, even nine times on some homes.

In many cases, banks delay seizures to avoid having to pay maintenance bills or homeowner association fees. Meanwhile, neighbors fend off vandals and thieves and worry about property values falling because of the deteriorating houses.

The repeated cancellations burden the court system.

“These never seem to go away,” said Thomas McGrady, chief judge of the Pinellas-Pasco County Circuit. “It’s a nuisance.”

White Paper: Many Causes of Foreclosure Crisis

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Editor’s Comment:

I attended Darrell Blomberg’s Foreclosure Strategists’ meeting last night where Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne defended the relatively small size of the foreclosure settlement compared with the tobacco settlement. To be fair, it should be noted that the multi-state settlement relates only to issues brought by the attorneys general. True they did very little investigation but the settlement sets the guidelines for settling with individual homeowners without waiving anything except that the AG won’t bring the lawsuits to court. Anyone else can and will. It wasn’t a real settlement. But the effect was what the Banks wanted. They want you to think the game is over and move on. The game is far from over, it isn’t a game and I won’t stop until I get those homes back that were ripped from the arms of homeowners who never knew what hit them.

So this is the first full business day after AG Horne promised me he would get back to me on the question of whether the AG would bring criminal actions for racketeering and corruption against the banks and servicers for conducting sham auctions in which “credit bids” were used instead of cash to allow the banks to acquire title. These credit bids came from non-creditors and were used as the basis for issuing deeds on foreclosure, each of which carry a presumption of authenticity.  But the deeds based on credit bids from non-creditors represent outright theft and a ratification of a corrupt title system that was doing just fine before the banks started claiming the loans were securitized.

Those credit bids and the deeds issued upon foreclosure were sham transactions — just as the transactions originated with borrowers were based upon the lies and false pretenses of the acting lenders who were paid for their acting services. By pretending that the loan came from these thinly capitalised sham companies (all closed with no forwarding address), the banks and servicers started the lie that the loan was sold up the tree of securitization. Each transaction we are told was a sale of the loan, but none of them actually involved any money exchanging hands. So much for, “value received.”

The purpose of these loans was to create a process that would cover up the theft of the investor money that the investment bank received in exchange for “mortgage bonds” based upon non-existent transactions and the title equivalent of wild deeds.

So the answer to the question is that borrowers did not make bad decisions. They were tricked into these loans. Had there been full disclosure as required by TILA, the borrowers would never have closed on the papers presented to them. Had there been full disclosure to the investors, they never would have parted with a nickel. No money, no lender, no borrower no transactions. And practically barring lawyers from being hired by borrowers was the first clue that these deals were upside down and bogus. No, they didn’t make bad decisions. There was an asymmetry of information that the banks used to leverage against the borrowers who knew nothing and who understood nothing.  

“Just sign everywhere we marked for your signature” was the closing agent’s way of saying, “You are now totally screwed.” If you ask the wrong question you get the wrong answer. “Moral hazard” in this context is not a term anyone knowledgeable uses in connection with the borrowers. It is a term used to express the context in which unscrupulous Bankers acted without conscience and with reckless disregard to the public, violating every applicable law, rule and regulation in the process.

Why Did So Many People Make So Many Ex Post Bad Decisions? The Causes of the Foreclosure Crisis

Public Policy Discussion Paper No. 12-2


by Christopher L. Foote, Kristopher S. Gerardi, and Paul S. Willen

This paper presents 12 facts about the mortgage market. The authors argue that the facts refute the popular story that the crisis resulted from financial industry insiders deceiving uninformed mortgage borrowers and investors. Instead, they argue that borrowers and investors made decisions that were rational and logical given their ex post overly optimistic beliefs about house prices. The authors then show that neither institutional features of the mortgage market nor financial innovations are any more likely to explain those distorted beliefs than they are to explain the Dutch tulip bubble 400 years ago. Economists should acknowledge the limits of our understanding of asset price bubbles and design policies accordingly.

To ready the entire paper please go to this link: www.bostonfed.org/economic/ppdp/2012/ppdp1202.htm

CFPB Issues Bulletin Removing the Corporate Veils

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Editor’s Comment:

In a recent bulletin, the Consumer Financial Protection Board issued a bulletin that obliterated the “layering” of corporate veils to pierce through and allow homeowner borrowers to press their claims for wrongful foreclosure, slander of title, fraud and other claims against EVERYONE that is a “service provider” within the broad definition contained in the  Dodd-Frank Act. It makes everyone liable. Hat Tip to Darrell Blomberg. Instead of projecting dozens of hours as to discovery, depositions, and other forms of investigation, the CFPB has essentially created a presumption by an administrative finding. This finding, being merely a codification of existing law and doctrine is in my opinion completely retroactive.

The mere fact that a supervised bank or nonbank enters into a business relationship with a service provider does not absolve the supervised bank or nonbank of responsibility for complying with Federal consumer financial law to avoid consumer harm. A service provider that is unfamiliar with the legal requirements applicable to the products or services being offered, or that does not make efforts to implement those requirements carefully and effectively, or that exhibits weak internal controls, can harm consumers and create potential liabilities for both the service provider and the entity with which it has a business relationship. Depending on the circumstances, legal responsibility may lie with the supervised bank or nonbank as well as with the supervised service provider.

B.    The CFPB’s Supervisory Authority Over Service Providers

Title X authorizes the CFPB to examine and obtain reports from supervised banks and nonbanks for compliance with Federal consumer financial law and for other related purposes and also to exercise its enforcement authority when violations of the law are identified. Title X also grants the CFPB supervisory and enforcement authority over supervised service providers, which includes the authority to examine the operations of service providers on site.1 The CFPB will exercise the full extent of its supervision authority over supervised service providers, including its authority to examine for compliance with Title X’s prohibition on unfair, deceptive, or abusive acts or practices. The CFPB will also exercise its enforcement authority against supervised service providers as appropriate.2

C.    The CFPB’s Expectations

The CFPB expects supervised banks and nonbanks to have an effective process for managing the risks of service provider relationships. The CFPB will apply these expectations consistently, regardless of whether it is a supervised bank or nonbank that has the relationship with a service provider.

To limit the potential for statutory or regulatory violations and related consumer harm, supervised banks and nonbanks should take steps to ensure that their business arrangements with service providers do not present unwarranted risks to consumers. These steps should include, but are not limited to:

    Conducting thorough due diligence to verify that the service provider understands and is capable of complying with Federal consumer financial law;

See full article 2012-03 at http://www.consumerfinance.gov/guidance/

The Reporter Who Saw it Coming

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Editor’s Comment:

By Dean Starkman

Mike Hudson thought he was merely exposing injustice, but he also was unearthing the roots of a global financial meltdown.

Mike Hudson began reporting on the subprime mortgage business in the early 1990s when it was still a marginal, if ethically challenged, business. His work on the “poverty industry” (pawnshops, rent-to-own operators, check-cashing operations) led him to what were then known as “second-lien” mortgages. From his street-level perspective, he could see the abuses and asymmetries of the market in a way that the conventional business press could not. But because it ran mostly in small publications, his reporting was largely ignored. Hudson pursued the story nationally, via a muckraking book, Merchants of Misery (Common Courage Press, 1996); in a 10,000-word expose on Citigroup-as-subprime-factory, which won a Polk award in 2004 for the small alternative magazine Southern Exposure; and in a series on the subprime leader, Ameriquest, co-written as a freelancer, for the Los Angeles Times in 2005. He continued to pursue the subject as it metastasized into the trillion-dollar center of the Financial Crisis of 2008—briefly at The Wall Street Journal and now at the Center for Public Integrity. Hudson, 52, is the son of an ex-Marine and legendary local basketball coach. He started out on rural weeklies, covering championship tomatoes and large fish and such, even produced a cooking column. But as a reporter for The Roanoke Times he turned to muckraking and never looked back. CJR’s Dean Starkman interviewed Hudson in the spring of 2011.

Follow the ex-employees

The great thing about The Roanoke Times was that there was an emphasis on investigation but there was also an emphasis on storytelling and writing. And they would bring in lots of people like Roy Peter Clark and William Zinsser, the On Writing Well guy. The Providence Journal book, the How I Wrote the Story, was a bit of a Bible for me.

As I was doing a series on poverty in Roanoke, one of the local legal aid attorneys was like, “It’s not just the lack of money—it’s also what happens when they try to get out of poverty.” He said basically there are three ways out: they bought a house, so they got some equity; they bought a car so they could get some mobility; or they went back to school to get a better job. And in every case, he had example after example of folks, who because they were doing just that, had actually gotten deeper in poverty, trapped in unbelievable debt.

His clients often dealt with for-profit trade schools, truck driving schools that would close down; medical assistant’s schools that no one hired from; and again and again they’d be three, four, five, eight thousand dollars in debt, and unable to repay it, and then of course prevented from ever again going back to school because they couldn’t get another a student loan. So that got me thinking about what I came to know as the poverty industry.

I applied for an Alicia Patterson Fellowship and proposed doing stories on check-cashing outlets, pawn shops, second-mortgage lenders (they didn’t call themselves subprime in those days). This was ’91. We didn’t have access to the Internet, but I came across a wire story about something called the Boston “second-mortgage scandal,” and got somebody to send me a thick stack of clips. It was really impressive. The Boston Globe and other news organizations were taking on the lenders and the mortgage brokers, and the closing attorneys, and on and on.

I was trying to make the story not just local but national. I had some local cases involving Associates [First Capital Corp., then a unit of Ford Motor Corp.]. Basically, it turned out that Ford Motor Company, the old-line carmaker, was the biggest subprime lender in the country. The evidence was pretty clear that they were doing many of the same kinds of bait-and-switch salesmanship and, in some cases, pure fraud, that we later saw take over the mortgage market. I felt like this was a big story; this is the one! Later, investigations and Congressional hearings corroborated what I was finding in ’94, ’95, and ’96. And it seems so self-evident now, but I learned that finding ex-employees often gives you a window into what’s really going on with a company. The problem has always been finding them and getting them to talk.

I spent the better part of the ‘90s writing about the poverty industry and about predatory lending. As a reporter you don’t want to be defined by one subject. So I was actually working on a book about the history of racial integration in sports, interviewing old Negro-league baseball players. I was really trying to change a little bit of how I was moving forward career-wise. But it’s like the old mafia-movie line: every time I think I’m out, they pull me back in.

Subprime goes mainstream

In the fall of 2002, the Federal Trade Commission announced a big settlement with Citigroup, which had bought Associates, and at first I saw it as a positive development, like they had nailed the big bad actor. I’m doing a 1,000-word freelance thing, but of course as I started to report I started hearing from people who were saying that this settlement is basically giving them absolution, and allowed them to move forward with what was, by Citi standards, a pretty modest settlement. And the other thing that struck me was the media was treating this as though Citigroup was cleaning up this legacy problem, when Citi itself had its own problems. There had been a big magazine story about [Citigroup Chief Sanford I.] “Sandy” Weill. It was like “Sandy’s Comeback.” I saw this and said, ‘Whoa, this is an example of the mainstreaming of subprime.’

I pitched a story about how these settlements weren’t what they seemed, and got turned down a lot of places. Eventually I went to Southern Exposure and called the editor there, Gary Ashwill, and he said, “That’s a great story, we’ll put it on the cover.” And I said, “Well how much space can we have?” and he said, “How much do we need?” That was not something you heard in journalism in those days.

I interviewed 150 people, mostly borrowers, attorneys, experts, industry people, but the stuff that really moves the story are the former employees. Many of them had just gotten fired for complaining internally. They were upset about what had gone on—to some degree about how the company treated them, but usually very upset about how the company had pressured them and their co-workers to mistreat their customers.

As a result of the Citigroup stuff, I got a call from a filmmaker [James Scurlock] who was working on what eventually became Maxed Out, about credit cards and student loans and all that kind of stuff. And he asked if I could go visit, and in some cases revisit, some of the people I had interviewed and he would follow me with a camera. So I did sessions in rural Mississippi, Brooklyn and Queens, and Pittsburg. Again and again you would hear people talk about these bad loans they got. But also about stress. I remember a guy in Brooklyn, not too far from where I live now, who paused and said something along the lines of: ‘You know I’m not proud of this, but I have to say I really considered killing myself.’ Again and again people talked about how bad they felt about having gotten into these situations. It was powerful and eye-opening. They didn’t understand, in many cases, that they’d been taken in by very skillful salesmen who manipulated them into taking out loans that were bad for them.

If one person tells you that story, you say okay, well maybe it’s true, but you don’t know. But you’ve got a woman in San Francisco saying, “I was lied to and here’s how they lied to me,” and then you’ve got a loan officer for the same company in suburban Kansas saying, “This is what we did to people.” And then you have another loan officer in Florida and another borrower in another state. You start to see the pattern.

People always want some great statistic [proving systemic fraud], but it’s really, really hard to do that. And statistics data doesn’t always tell us what happened. If you looked at some of the big numbers during the mortgage boom, it would look like everything was fine because of the fact that they refinanced people over and over again. So essentially a lot of what was happening was very Ponzi-like—pushing down the road the problems and hiding what was going on. But I was not talking to analysts. I was not talking to high-level corporate executives. I was not talking to experts. I was talking to the lowest level people in the industry— loan officers, branch managers. I was talking to borrowers. And I was doing it across the country and doing it in large numbers. And when you actually did the shoe-leather reporting, you came up with a very different picture than the PR spin you were getting at the high level.

One day Rich Lord [who had just published the muckraking book, American Nightmare: Predatory Lending and the Foreclosure of the American Dream, Common Courage Press, 2004) and I went to his house. We were sitting in his study. Rich had spent a lot of time writing about Household [International, parent of Household Finance], and I had spent a lot of time writing about Citigroup. Household had been number one in subprime, and then CitiFinancial/Citigroup was number one. This was in the fall of 2004. We asked, well, who’s next? Rich suggested Ameriquest.

I went back home to Roanoke and got on the PACER—computerized court records—system and started looking up Ameriquest cases, and found lots of borrower suits and ex-employee suits. There was one in particular, which basically said that the guy had been fired because he had complained that Ameriquest business ethics were terrible. I just found the guy in the Kansas City phone book and called him up, and he told me a really compelling story. One of the things that really stuck out is, he said to me, “Have you ever seen the movie Boiler Room [2000, about an unethical pump-and-dump brokerage firm]?”

By the time I had roughly ten former employees, most of them willing to be on the record, I thought: this is a really good story, this is important. In a sense I feel like I helped them become whistleblowers because they had no idea how to blow the whistle or what to do. And Ameriquest at that point was on its way to being the largest subprime lender. So, I started trying to pitch the story. While I had a full-time gig at the Roanoke Times, for me the most important thing was finding the right place to place it.

The Los Angeles Times liked the story and teamed me with Scott Reckard, and we worked through much of the fall of 2004 and early 2005. We had thirty or so former employees, almost all of them basically saying that they had seen improper, illegal, fraudulent practices, some of whom acknowledged that they’d done it themselves: bait-and-switch salesmanship, inflating people’s incomes on their loan applications, and inflating appraisals. Or they were cutting and pasting W2s or faking a tax return. It was called the “art department”—blatant forgery, doctoring the documents. You know, it was pretty eye-opening stuff. One of the best details was that many people said they showed Boiler Room—as a training tape! And the other important thing about the story was that Ameriquest was being held up by politicians, and even by the media, as the gold standard—the company cleaning up the industry, reversing age-old bad practices in this market. To me, theirs was partly a story of the triumph of public relations.

Leaving Roanoke

I’d been in Roanoke almost 20 years as a reporter, and so, what’s the next step? I resigned from the Roanoke Times and for most of 2005 I was freelancing fulltime. I made virtually no money that year, but by working on the Ameriquest story, it helped me move to the next thing. I interviewed with The Wall Street Journal [and was hired to cover the bond market]. Of course I came in pitching mortgage-backed securities as a great story. I could have said it with more urgency in the proposal, but I didn’t want to come off as like an advocate, or half-cocked.

Daily bond market coverage is their bread-and-butter, and it’s something that needs to be done. And I tried to do the best I could on it. But I definitely felt a little bit like a point guard playing small forward. I was doing what I could for the team but I was not playing in a position where my talents and my skills were being used to the highest.

I wanted to do a documentary. I wanted to do a book [which would become The Monster: How a Gang of Predatory Lenders and Wall Street Bankers Fleeced America—and Spawned a Global Crisis, Times Books, 2010]. I felt like I had a lot of information, a lot of stuff that needed to be told, and an understanding that many other reporters didn’t have. And I could see a lot of the writing focused on deadbeat borrowers lying about their income, rather than how things were really happening.

Through my reporting I knew two things: I knew that there were a lot of predatory and fraudulent practices throughout the subprime industry. It wasn’t isolated pockets, it wasn’t rogue lenders, it wasn’t rogue employees. It was really endemic. And I also knew that Wall Street played a big role in this, and that Wall Street was driving or condoning and/or profiting from a lot of these practices. I understood that, basically, the subprime lenders, like Ameriquest and even like Countrywide, were really just creatures of Wall Street. Wall Street loaned these companies money; they then made loans; they off-loaded the loans to Wall Street; Wall Street then sold them [as securities to investors]. And it was just this magic circle of cash flowing. The one thing I didn’t understand was all the fancy financial alchemy—the derivatives, the swaps, that were added on to put them on steroids.

It’s clear that people inside a company, one or two or three people, could commit fraud and get away with it, on occasion, despite the best efforts of a company. But I don’t think it can happen in a widespread way when a company has basic compliance systems in place. The best way to connect the dots from the sleazy practices on the ground to people at high levels was to say, okay, they did have these compliance people in place; they had fraud investigators, loan underwriters, and compliance officers. Did they do their jobs? And if they did, what happened to them?

In late 2010, at the Center for Public Integrity, I got a tip about a whistleblower case involving someone who worked at a high level at Countrywide. This is Eileen Foster, who had been an executive vice president, the top fraud investigator at Countrywide. She was claiming before OSHA that she was fired for reporting widespread fraud, but also for trying to protect other whistleblowers within the company who were also reporting fraud at the branch level and at the regional level, all over the country. The interesting thing is that no one in the government had ever contacted her! [This became “Countrywide Protected Fraudsters by Silencing Whistleblowers, say Former Employees,” September 22 and 23, 2011, one of CPI’s best-read stories of the year; 60 Minutes followed with its own interview of Foster, in a segment called, “Prosecuting Wall Street,” December 14, 2011.] It was very exciting. We worked really hard to do follow-up stories. I did about eight stories afterward, many about General Electric, a big player in the subprime world. We found eight former mortgage unit employees who had tried to warn about abuses and whom management had shunted aside.

I just feel like there needs to be more investigative reporting in the mix, and especially more investigative reporting—of problems that are going on now, rather than post-mortems or tick-tocks about financial disasters or crashes or bankruptcies that have already happened.

And that’s hard to do. It takes a real commitment from a news organization, and it can be a high-wire thing because you’re working on these stories for a long time, and market players you’re writing about yell and scream and do some real pushback. But there needs to be more of the sort of early warning journalism. It’s part of the big tent, what a newspaper is.

Foreclosure Strategists: Phx. Meet tomorrow with AZ AG Tom Horne

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Editor’s Comment:

Contact: Darrell Blomberg  Darrell@ForeclosureStrategists.com  602-686-7355

Meeting: Tuesday, May 8th, 2012, 7pm to 9pm

Special guest speaker:  Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne

We will be discussing among other things:

Brief bio / history

Arizona v Countrywide / Bank of America lawsuit settlement

National Attorneys’ General Mortgage Settlement

Appropriation of National Mortgage Settlement Funds

Attorney General’s Legislative Efforts pertaining to foreclosures

Submitted and submitting complaints to the Attorney General’s office

Joint efforts between the Attorney General’s office and other agencies

Adding effectiveness to homeowner’s OCC Complaints

Please send me your thoughts and questions you’d like to ask Tom Horne.

We meet every week!

Every Tuesday: 7:00pm to 9:00pm. Come early for dinner and socialization. (Food service is also available during meeting.)
Macayo’s Restaurant, 602-264-6141, 4001 N Central Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85012. (east side of Central Ave just south of Indian School Rd.)
COST: $10… and whatever you want to spend on yourself for dinner, helpings are generous so bring an appetite.
Please Bring a Guest!
(NOTE: There is a $2.49 charge for the Happy Hour Buffet unless you at least order a soft drink.)

FACEBOOK PAGE FOR “FORECLOSURE STRATEGIST”

I have set up a Facebook page. (I can’t believe it but it is necessary.) The page can be viewed at www.Facebook.com, look for and “friend” “Foreclosure Strategist.”

I’ll do my best to keep it updated with all of our events.

Please get the word out and send your friends and other homeowners the link.

MEETUP PAGE FOR FORECLOSURE STRATEGISTS:

I have set up a MeetUp page. The page can be viewed at www.MeetUp.com/ForeclosureStrategists. Please get the word out and send your friends and other homeowners the link.

May your opportunities be bountiful and your possibilities unlimited.

“Emissary of Observation”

Darrell Blomberg

602-686-7355

Darrell@ForeclosureStrategists.com

Mortgage Rates in U.S. Decline to Record Lows With 30-Year Loan at 3.84%

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Editor’s Comment:

It appears as though Bloomberg has joined the media club tacit agreement to ignore housing and more particularly Investment Banking or relegate them to just another statistic. The possibilities of a deep, long recession created by the Banks using consumer debt are avoiđed and ignored regardless of the writer or projection based upon reliable indexes.

Why is it that Bloomberg News refuses to tell us the news? The facts are that median income has been flat for more than 30 years. The financial sector convinced the government to allow banks to replace income with consumer debt. The crescendo was reached in the housing market where the Case/Schiller index shows a flash spike in prices of homes while the values of homes remained constant. The culprit is always the same — the lure of lower payments with the result being the oppressive amount of debt burden that can no longer be avoided or ignored. The median consumer has neither the cash nor credit to buy.

Each year we hear predictions of a recovery in the housing market, or that green shoots are appearing. We congratulate ourselves on avoiding the abyss. But the predictions and the congratulations are either premature or they will forever be wrong.

The financial sector is allowed to play in our economy for only one reason— to provide capital to satisfy the needs of business for innovation, growth and operations. Instead, we find ourselves with bloated TBTF myths, the capital drained from our middle and lower classes that would be spent supporting an economy of production and service. That money has been acquired and maintained by the financal sector giants, notwithstanding the reports of layoffs.

From any perspective other than one driven by ideology one must admit that the economy has undergone a change in its foundation — and that these changes are ephemeral and cannot be sustained. With GDP now reliant on figures from the financial sector which for the longest time hovered around 16%, our “economy” would be 50% LESS without the financial sector reporting bloated revenues and profits just as they contributed to the false spike in prices of homes. Bloated incomes inflated the stampede of workers to Wall Street.

Investigative reporting shows that the tier 2 yield spread premium imposed by the investment bankers — taking huge amounts of investment capital and converting the capital into service “income” — forced a structure that could not work, was guaranteed not to work and which ultimately did fail with the TBTF banks reaping profits while the rest of the economy suffered.

The current economic structure is equally unsustainable with income and wealth inequality reaching disturbing levels. What happens when you wake up and realize that the real economy of production of goods and service is actually, according to your own figures, worth 1/3 less than what we are reporting as GDP. How will we explain increasing profits reported by the TBTF banks? where did that money come from? Is it real or is it just what we want to hear want to believe and are afraid to face?


Wall Street Insider Exclusive to Livinglies

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Editor’s Comment:

As I have reported on past occasions I have sources from the securities and more specifically the securitization industry that provide comments and information on the promise that I will keep their identities anonymous. This one in particular caught my attention. The source is from a Southeastern state who packaged and sold pools of loans of all types and qualities.

I believe regardless of whether the note and mortgage / deed of trust was assigned or not, it can be demonstrated they did not move as a unit, unless the price paid was the payoff value of the loan and/or value of property. [Editor's Note: The importance of this fellow's statement cannot be overstated. And his method for determining the true nature of an assignment, allonge or indorsement transaction is extremely helpful. While there are contrary arguments to his contention, they are a stretch to accept]

A different price (which I have hitting on this theme) would indicate the two are not a unit, because the value of the promissory note is not related to the actual security value.  Also how the transaction was booked and valued on the bank’s accounts would reveal the same.  I am guessing that they were valuing notes at a price much higher than the market value of the home. [Editor's Note: Yes and as I have already been seen informed with documentation, the transactions were never booked as accounting transactions because from the standpoint of the assignor or assignee no transaction took place. These were assignments of convenience. They do not show on the balance sheet of the either the assignor or the assignee as a loan receivable. If they come to court claiming ownership or that someone else acquired ownership through them, they are doing so contrary to their own admissions in the own bookkeeping. THIS is where confidence and knowledge in motion practice and confidence and knowledge in discovery will put the homeowner in either extreme jeopardy or in a winning position --- because the loan was never owned by ANY of the intermediaries who acted as conduits]

I believe the key is to assert the note as a ‘financial asset.’  That there is a market or exchange in which it trades.  In fact on many of the bank’s annual reports, they speak that the primary business is originating loans for sale/securitization, i.e. a market exists.  Along with pricing, this will be an easy case to make. [Editor's Note: Read this carefully --- it proves the point by reference to information in the public domain --- and it is not subject to attack as being opinion or questionable fact or standing to raise the issue. What I believe he is telling me here is that even if there was ($10.00, or other valuable consideration), there are only three values that conceivably be used --- the principal due on the note, the value of the collateral or the fair market value of the loan as determined by the freely traded secondary market. In nearly all cases the "traders" never even pretended that this was a real transaction and so there was no exchange of money at all. But if there was an exchange of money, this index could be used to prove that the transaction was a sham because it never met the elements of a reasonable business transaction. Judge Shack in New York asked the question himself --- why and under what terms would anyone buy a loan that is in default? How could a loan declared in default be assigned into an investor pool where the investors were promised that they would at least initially receive performing loans. And how could they receive any loan after the 90 day cutoff period included in the PSA and the REMIC statute? The collateral  question that Judge Shack might have asked is why anyone would pay a price different than the price set on the secondary market regardless of the principal stated on the note or the current fair market value?]

Here is the kicker:  SECTION 36‑8‑406. Obligation to notify issuer of lost, destroyed, or wrongfully taken security certificate.

     If a security certificate has been lost, apparently destroyed, or wrongfully taken, and the owner fails to notify the issuer of that fact within a reasonable time after the owner has notice of it and the issuer registers a transfer of the security before receiving notification, the owner may not assert against the issuer a claim for registering the transfer under Section 36‑8‑404 (wrongful registration) or a claim to a new security certificate under Section 36‑8‑405 (replacement of a lost, destroyed or wrongfully taken security certificate).

I wonder out loud why I should not reregister my note.   Imagine the bank now arguing all the points of having to present an actual note, etc in order to change ownership.

The next big thing I am digging into is whether an owner/purchaser of a security has any authority to electronically register and transfer ownership.  I believe, but cannot find exact wording, that such is only limited to the issuer.  On the entire face, MERs may not even be allowed because the issuer of the note, the homeowner, never authorized them to keep track.

Think of why there are laws that require lenders to notify borrowers when their mortgage is sold, it is because the issuer needs a record.  Worse case is that the bank argues the issuer under Chapter 8 is the one who ‘becomes responsible for, or in place of, another person described as an issuer in this section.’   That is still not the bank, but the county registrar.

Hiding Behind Advice of Counsel No Better Than Ratings

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Editor’s Comment:

In an article entitled “Legal Beagles in Cross Hairs” WSJ reports that the SEC and many others in law enforcement have on-going investigations into the role of attorneys not misconduct of their clients. For the most part it is an attorney’s solemn duty to represent and advocate the position of his or her client to the utmost of their ability without violating the law. Everyone is entitled to a lawyer no matter how reprehensible their conduct might have been when they committed the act.

But the SEC seems to be leading the way, starting with indictments and convictions of attorneys that kicks aside the clients’ defense of “I did it on advice of counsel.” in wide ranging probes law enforcement agencies are after the attorneys who said it was OK — upon receiving lavish payments, that what the Banks did in setting the securitization structure for the cash trail and setting up the securitization procedure for the document trail and then setting up the contents of the documents that would provide coverage for intentional acts of theft, forgery, fabrication and a variety of other acts.

The attorneys who gave letters of opinion to the investment banks blessing securitization of home and commercial mortgages as they were presented and launched are in deep hot water. This is especially true since the law firms that engaged in these “blessings” had lawyers quitting their jobs leaving behind memorandums to the partners that the law firm itself was committing crimes. The similarity between the blessing of the law firm and the ratings of Moody’s, S&P, Fitch is surprising to some people.

And the attorneys who suggested severance settlements conditioned on employed lawyers or other witnesses on a sudden onset of amnesia are also in the cross-hairs, getting stiff long-term sentences. These are all potential witnesses in what could be come nationwide probes that were blocked by “advice of counsel” claims and brings to mind those many cases where the lawyer for Wells, US Bank, or BOA was fined and sanctioned for lying to the court about facts which they most certainly knew or should have known — like the name of their client.

As these probes continue it may be seen as scapegoating the attorneys or as chilling the confidentiality of the relationship between lawyer and client. But that rule of confidentiality and the defines of advice of counsel vanishes when the conduct of the attorney or indeed a whole law firm is that of a co-conspirator. It is especially unavailable when you have a foreclosure mill that is forging, fabricating and filing documents on behalf of extremely well paying clients.

It would therefore seem to be an appropriate time to file complaints with law enforcement including police and regulatory authorities that are well-written, honed down to a sharp point and which attach at least some evidence beyond the mere allegation of wrong-doing on the part of the attorney or law firm. If appropriate lay people can file the same complaints as grievances with the state Bar Association that is required to regulate and discipline the behavior of lawyers. And attorneys for homeowners and judges who hear these cases are under an obligation to report evidence of wrongdoing or else face disciplinary charges of their own resulting in suspension or disbarment.

Legal Eagles in Cross Hairs

By JEAN EAGLESHAM

The Securities and Exchange Commission is intensifying its scrutiny of lawyers who gave a green light to certain mortgage-bond deals before the financial crisis or have tried to thwart investigations by the agency, according to people familiar with the matter.

The move is at an early stage and might not result in any enforcement action by the SEC because of the difficulty proving lawyers went beyond their legal duty to clients, these people cautioned. In the past, SEC officials generally have gone after lawyers only when accusing them of active involvement in securities fraud or serious misconduct, such as faking documents in a probe.

In recent months, though, some SEC officials have grown frustrated by what they claim is direct obstruction of a few investigations and a larger number of probes where lawyers coach clients in the art of resisting and rebuffing. The tactics include witnesses “forgetting” what happened and companies conducting internal investigations that scapegoat junior employees and let senior managers off the hook, agency officials say. “The problem of less-than-candid testimony … is a serious one,” Robert Khuzami, the SEC’s director of enforcement, said at a conference last month. The stepped-up scrutiny is aimed at both internal and outside lawyers.

Claudius Modesti, enforcement chief at the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, an accounting watchdog created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, said at the same event: “We’re encountering lawyers who frankly should know better.”

The SEC enforcement staff has recently reported more lawyers to the agency’s general counsel, who can take administrative action against lawyers for alleged professional misconduct.

The SEC hasn’t disclosed the number of referrals. Only one lawyer has ever been banned for life from representing clients before the agency because of professional misconduct.

Earlier this year, Kenneth Lench, head of the SEC’s structured-products enforcement unit, said the agency needed to “seriously consider” charges against lawyers in “appropriate cases.” Mr. Lench said he saw “some factual situations where I seriously question whether the advice that was given was done in good faith.”

In July, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission gained the new power to take civil action against anyone, including lawyers, who makes “any false or misleading statement of a material fact.”

The agency, which oversees the futures and options market, hasn’t taken any action yet under the expanded power, according to a person familiar with the matter. A CFTC spokesman declined to comment.

“Frankly, I wish we had the power the CFTC has,” Mr. Khuzami said.

The SEC’s focus on advice provided by lawyers in mortgage-bond deals is part of the wider push by officials to punish alleged wrongdoing tied to the financial crisis. So far, the SEC has filed crisis-related civil suits against 102 firms and individuals, and more cases are coming, according to people familiar with matter.

Some former government officials say stepping up regulatory scrutiny of lawyers for their work on cases snared in investigations by the SEC could send a chilling message. “The government needs to be careful not to deter lawyers from being zealous advocates for their clients,” says John Wood, a former U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri.

The only lawyer hit with a lifetime ban by the SEC for his work on behalf of a client is Steven Altman of New York. The client was a witness in an SEC investigation, and the agency alleged that Mr. Altman suggested in a recorded phone conversation that the client’s recollection of certain events might “fade” if she got a year of severance pay.

Last year, an appeals court rejected Mr. Altman’s bid to overturn the 2010 ban. Jeffrey Hoffman, a lawyer for Mr. Altman, couldn’t be reached for comment.

In December, a federal grand jury in Los Angeles indicted lawyer David Tamman on 10 criminal counts related to helping a former client cover up an alleged $20 million fraud. Prosecutors claim Mr. Tamman changed and backdating documents, removed incriminating documents from investor files and lied to SEC investigators in sworn testimony.

“The truth is that my client was set up and made a scapegoat,” says Stanley Stone, a lawyer for Mr. Tamman, adding that his client acted under the advice and guidance of senior lawyers at his former law firm, Nixon Peabody LLP. “We’re going to prove at trial that what was done was not criminal,” Mr. Stone says.

A Nixon Peabody spokeswoman says Mr. Tamman was fired in 2009 “as soon as we learned that he was under SEC investigation and he failed to explain his actions to us.” The law firm has asked a judge to throw out a wrongful-termination suit filed by Mr. Tamman.

A criminal trial last year shows how the SEC could face daunting hurdles in bringing enforcement actions against lawyers for providing bad advice.

“A lawyer should never fear prosecution because of advice that he or she has given to a client who consults him or her,” U.S. District Judge Roger Titus in Maryland ruled when dismissing all six charges against Lauren Stevens, a former lawyer at drug maker GlaxoSmithKline PLC. GSK +0.19%

Ms. Stevens was accused by prosecutors of lying to the FDA and concealing and falsifying documents related to an investigation by the U.S. agency. The federal judge refused to let a jury decide the case, saying that would risk a miscarriage of justice.

Reid Weingarten, a lawyer for Ms. Stevens, couldn’t be reached. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department declined to comment.

Despite the government’s defeat, “the mere fact she was charged sends a strong signal to other lawyers about the risks of being seen as less than forthcoming in their representation s to the government,” says Mr. Wood, the former federal prosecutor in Missouri. He now is a partner at law firm Hughes Hubbard & Reed LLP.


People Have Answers, Will Anyone Listen?

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Editor’s Comment: 

Thanks to Home Preservation Network for alerting us to John Griffith’s Statement before the Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives.  See his statement below.  

People who know the systemic flaws caused by Wall Street are getting closer to the microphone. The Banks are hoping it is too late — but I don’t think we are even close to the point where the blame shifts solidly to their illegal activities. The testimony is clear, well-balanced, and based on facts. 

On the high costs of foreclosure John Griffith proves the point that there is an “invisible hand” pushing homes into foreclosure when they should be settled modified under HAMP. There can be no doubt nor any need for interpretation — even the smiliest analysis shows that investors would be better off accepting modification proposals to a huge degree. Yet most people, especially those that fail to add tacit procuration language in their proposal and who fail to include an economic analysis, submit proposals that provide proceeds to investors that are at least 50% higher than the projected return from foreclosure. And that is the most liberal estimate. Think about all those tens of thousands of homes being bull-dozed. What return did the investor get on those?

That is why we now include a HAMP analysis in support of proposals as part of our forensic analysis. We were given the idea by Martin Andelman (Mandelman Matters). When we performed the analysis the results were startling and clearly showed, as some judges around the country have pointed out, that the HAMP loan modification proposals were NOT considered. In those cases where the burden if proof was placed on the pretender lender, it was clear that they never had any intention other than foreclosure. Upon findings like that, the cases settled just like every case where the pretender loses the battle on discovery.

Despite clear predictions of increased strategic defaults based upon data that shows that strategic defaults are increasing at an exponential level, the Bank narrative is that if they let homeowners modify mortgages, it will hurt the Market and encourage more deadbeats to do the same. The risk of strategic defaults comes not from people delinquent in their payments but from businesspeople who look at the principal due, see no hope that the value of the home will rise substantially for decades, and see that the home is worth less than half the mortgage claimed. No reasonable business person would maintain the status quo. 

The case for principal reductions (corrections) is made clear by the one simple fact that the homes are not worth and never were worth the value of the used in true loans. The failure of the financial industry to perform simple, long-standing underwriting duties — like verifying the value of the collateral created a risk for the “lenders” (whoever they are) that did not exist and was present without any input from the borrower who was relying on the same appraisals that the Banks intentionally cooked up so they could move the money and earn their fees.

Many people are suggesting paths forward. Those that are serious and not just positioning in an election year, recognize that the station becomes more muddled each day, the false foreclosures on fatally defective documents must stop, but that the buying and selling and refinancing of properties presents still more problems and risks. In the end the solution must hold the perpetrators to account and deliver relief to homeowners who have an opportunity to maintain possession and ownership of their homes and who may have the right to recapture fraudulently foreclosed homes with illegal evictions. The homes have been stolen. It is time to catch the thief, return the purse and seize the property of the thief to recapture ill-gotten gains.

Statement of John Griffith Policy Analyst Center for American Progress Action Fund

Before

The Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing On

Turning the Tide: Preventing More Foreclosures and Holding Wrong-Doers Accountable

Good afternoon Co-Chairman Grijalva, Co-Chairman Ellison, and members of the caucus. I am John Griffith, an Economic Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where my work focuses on housing policy.

It is an honor to be here today to discuss ways to soften the blow of the ongoing foreclosure crisis. It’s clear that lenders, investors, and policymakers—particularly the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—must do all they can to avoid another wave of costly and economy-crushing foreclosures. Today I will discuss why principal reduction—lowering the amount the borrower actually owes on a loan in exchange for a higher likelihood of repayment—is a critical tool in that effort.

Specifically, I will discuss the following:

1      First, the high cost of foreclosure. Foreclosure is typically the worst outcome for every party involved, since it results in extraordinarily high costs to borrowers, lenders, and investors, not to mention the carry-on effects for the surrounding community.

2      Second, the economic case for principal reduction. Research shows that equity is an important predictor of default. Since principal reduction is the only way to permanently improve a struggling borrower’s equity position, it is often the most effective way to help a deeply underwater borrower avoid foreclosure.

3      Third, the business case for Fannie and Freddie to embrace principal reduction. By refusing to offer write-downs on the loans they own or guarantee, Fannie, Freddie, and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, are significantly lagging behind the private sector. And FHFA’s own analysis shows that it can be a money-saver: Principal reductions would save the enterprises about $10 billion compared to doing nothing, and $1.7 billion compared to alternative foreclosure mitigation tools, according to data released earlier this month.

4      Fourth, a possible path forward. In a recent report my former colleague Jordan Eizenga and I propose a principal-reduction pilot at Fannie and Freddie that focuses on deeply underwater borrowers facing long-term economic hardships. The pilot would include special rules to maximize returns to Fannie, Freddie, and the taxpayers supporting them without creating skewed incentives for borrowers.

Fifth, a bit of perspective. To adequately meet the challenge before us, any principal-reduction initiative must be part of a multipronged

To read John Griffith’s entire testimony go to: http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2012/04/pdf/griffith_testimony.pdf


California Leads as Nation Braces for Another Foreclosure Push

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Editor’s Comment: 

Despite successful legislation in Nevada, Hawaii and other places that have required proof of transactions (actual exchange of money) and proof of authentic documentation, the number of foreclosures is heading up with California leading the way.

Legislators should ask themselves why foreclosures dropped so precipitously in states requiring proof rather than proffer from the lips of lying lawyers. If the foreclosures were legitimate, then nothing shoud have changed. Instead, the foreclosures just went away. Why would a bank walk away from its collateral? Maybe because there was no collateral. I have already strongly advised that the mortgage liens have never been perfected.

Perhaps the retreat of the banks reveals what we have been saying all along — there is no debt secured by any mortgage lien. Thus there can be no foreclosure.

Foreclosure filings up in most markets

RealtyTrac: distressed homes ‘coming out of hibernation’

BY INMAN NEWS

The number of homes hit with foreclosure-related filings picked up during the first three months of the year in more than half of markets tracked by public records aggregator RealtyTrac, “an early sign that long-dormant foreclosures are coming out of hibernation in many local markets,” the company said.

The number of homes subjected to some type of foreclosure filing increased in 114 of 212 markets with populations of 200,000 or more, compared to the fourth quarter of 2011.

Foreclosure-related filings were up from quarter-to-quarter in 26 out of 50 of the nation’s largest metropolitan areas, including Pittsburgh (up 49 percent), Indianapolis (up 37 percent), Philadelphia (up 30 percent), New York (up 24 percent), Raleigh, N.C. (up 23 percent), and Virginia Beach, Va. (up 22 percent).

Many industry analysts expect loan servicers to step up the pace of foreclosures in some markets as they put the “robo-signing” controversy behind them.

But foreclosure filings have dropped off dramatically in other markets. The total number of homes subjected to foreclosure-related filings nationwide fell 2.25 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012, and 15.9 percent from the same time a year ago.

During the first quarter, a total of 572,928 housing units — 1 in every 230 — were subjected to a foreclosure-related filing, either a default notice, scheduled auction or bank repossession. That was the lowest total since the fourth quarter of 2007,  RealtyTrac said in a report earlier this month. The biggest quarterly decreases in foreclosure activity among the 50 largest metro areas were in Portland, Ore. (down 28 percent), Las Vegas (down 26 percent), Providence, R.I. (down 24 percent), Salt Lake City (down 22 percent), Boston (down 21 percent), and San Jose, Calif. (down 21 percent).

Eight of the top 10 metros with the highest foreclosure rates during the first quarter were in California. Stockton and Modesto topped the list with foreclosure filing rates of 1 in 60 housing units each.

Stockton topped the list despite a 13.3 percent decline in the foreclosure rate from the previous quarter, and an 18.9 percent drop from a year ago. Modesto saw similar improvement, with an 8.14 percent drop in foreclosure activity for the quarter and a 21.48 percent plunge for the year.

Top 10 U.S. metros with highest foreclosure rates, first quarter 2012

Area Foreclosure rate (First Quarter 2012)
U.S. 1 in 230 housing units
Stockton, Calif. 1 in 60
Modesto, Calif. 1 in 60
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario, Calif. 1 in 62
Vallejo-Fairfield, Calif. 1 in 63
Merced, Calif. 1 in 72
Sacramento-Arden Arcade-Roseville, Calif. 1 in 77
Bakersfield, Calif. 1 in 81
Las Vegas-Paradise, Nev. 1 in 82
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale, Ariz. 1 in 87
Visalia-Porterville, Calif. 1 in 89

Source: RealtyTrac

Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif., topped RealtyTrac’s list of foreclosure activity in the nation’s 50 largest metros, with 1 in 62 of its housing units in some stage of foreclosure during the first quarter of 2012.

Seven other metros among the nation’s 50 largest had foreclosure rates more than twice the national average: Sacramento, Calif. (one in 77 housing units), Las Vegas (one in 82 housing units), Phoenix (one in 87 housing units), Atlanta (one in 90 housing units), Miami (one in 95 housing units), Orlando (one in 101 housing units), and Chicago (one in 107 housing units).

Guest Writer Shares Info on Fraud in CA Foreclosure Cases

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Editor’s Comment: The following information was submitted to the blog by a law firm.  We do not know this law firm.  We are simply passing along information that may be of interest to Californians.  As always, please do your research.

From counsel for Consumer Rights Defenders for our loyal followers, you may be interested in this California information which is not meant to be legal advise, just some information that is public knowledge. Call if you need foreclosure help at 818.453.3585 ask for Steve or Sara.   Ms. Stephens Esq7777@aol.com

___________

Elements of fraud cause of action: A plaintiff seeking a remedy based upon fraud must allege and prove all of the following basic elements:

· Defendant’s false representation or concealment of a ‘material’ fact (see Rest.2d Torts | 538(2)(a); Engalla v. Permanente Med. Group, Inc. (1997) 15 Cal.4th 951, 977, 64 Cal.Rptr.2d 843, 859–misrepresentation deemed ‘material’ if ‘a reasonable (person) would attach importance to its existence or nonexistence in determining his choice of action in the transaction’);

· Defendant made the representation with knowledge of its falsity or without sufficient knowledge of the subject to warrant a representation;

· The representation was made with the intent to induce plaintiff (or a class to which plaintiff belonged) to act upon it (see Blickman Turkus, LP v. MF Downtown Sunnyvale, LLC (2008) 162 Cal.App.4th 858, 869, 76 Cal.Rptr.3d 325, 333–fraud by false representations means intent to induce ‘reliance’; fraud by concealment involves intent to induce ‘conduct’);

· Plaintiff entered into the contract in ‘justifiable reliance’ upon the representation (see Ostayan v. Serrano Reconveyance Co. (2000) 77 Cal.App.4th 1411, 1419, 92 Cal.Rptr.2d 577, 583–P’s admission of no reliance on a representation made by D precludes cause of action for intentional or negligent misrepresentation); and

· As a result of reliance upon the false representation, plaintiff has suffered damages. [Alliance Mortgage Co. v. Rothwell (1995) 10 Cal.4th 1226, 1239, 44 Cal.Rptr.2d 352, 359; see Manderville v. PCG & S Group, Inc. (2007) 146 Cal.App.4th 1486, 1498, 55 Cal.Rptr.3d 59, 68; and Auerbach v. Great Western Bank (1999) 74 Cal.App.4th 1172, 1184, 88 Cal.Rptr.2d 718, 727--'Deception without resulting loss is not actionable fraud' (¶ 11:357.1)]

(1) [11:354.1] Particularized pleading required: A fraud cause of action must be pleaded with particularity; i.e., every element of the cause of action must be alleged factually and specifically in full. [Committee on Children's Television, Inc. v. General Foods Corp. (1983) 35 Cal.3d 197, 216, 197 Cal.Rptr. 783, 795; see Stansfield v. Starkey (1990) 220 Cal.App.3d 59, 73, 269 Cal.Rptr. 337, 345--complaint must plead facts showing 'how, when, where, to whom, and by what means the representations were tendered'; Nagy v. Nagy (1989) 210 Cal.App.3d 1262, 1268-1269, 258 Cal.Rptr. 787, 790--fraud complaint deficient if it neither shows cause and effect relationship between alleged fraud and damages sought nor alleges definite amount of damages suffered]

How Did H & R Block Get into the Subprime Mortgage Business?

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Tax Preparer Slammed with $24 Million in Fines on Toxic Mortgages

Editor’s Comment:  You really have to think about some of these stories and what they mean. 

1. Where is the synergy in a merger between Option One and H&R Block? The answers that they were both performing services for fees and neither one was ever a banker, lender or even investor sourcing the funds that were used to lure borrowers into deals that were so convoluted that even Alan Greenspan admits he didn’t understand them.

2. The charge is that they didn’t reveal that they could not buy back all the bad mortgages — meaning they did buy back some of them. which ones? And were some of those mortgages foreclosed in the name of a stranger to the transaction? WORSE YET — how many satisfactions of mortgages were executed by Ocwen, which was not the creditor, never the lender, and never the successor to any creditor. Follow the money trail. The only trail that exists is the trail leading from the investor’s banks accounts into the escrow agent’s trust account with instructions to refund any excess to parties who were complete strangers to the transaction disclosed to the borrower. The intermediary account in which the investor money was deposited was used to pay pornographic fees and profits to the investment banker and close affiliates as “participants” in a scheme of ” securitization” that never took place.

3. Under what terms were the loans purchased? Was it the note, the mortgage or the obligation? There are differences between all three.

4. Since they didn’t have the money to buy back the loans it might be inferred that they never had that money. In other words, they appeared on the “closing papers” as lender when in fact they never had the money to loan and they merely had performed a fee for service — I.e., acting as though they were the lender when they were not.

5. Who was the lender? If the money came from investors, then we know how to identify the creditor. but if we assume that the loan might have been paid or purchased by Option One, then isn’t the lender’s obligation paid? let’s see those actual repurchase transactions.

6. If that isn’t right then Option One must be correctly identified as the lender on the note and mortgage even though they never loaned any money and may or may not have purchased the entire loan, just the receivable, the right to sell the property — but how does anyone purchase the right to submit a credit bid at the foreclosure auction when everyone knows they were not the creditor?

7. How could any of these entities have any loans on their books when they were never the source of funds and why are they being allowed to claim losses obviously fell on the investors who put up the money on toxic mortgages believing them to be triple A rated. 

8. Why would anyone underwrite a bad deal unless they knew they would not lose any money? These mortgages were bad mortgages that under normal circumstances would never have been  offered by any bank loaning its own money or the it’s depositors. 

9. The terms of the deal MUST have been that nobody except the investors loses money on this deal and the kickers is that the investors appear to have waived their right to foreclose. 

10. So the thieves who cooked up this deal get paid for creating it and then end up with the house because the befuddled borrower doesn’t realise that either the debts are paid (at least the one secured by the mortgage) or that the debt has been paid down under terms of the loan (see PSA et al) that were never disclosed to the borrower — contrary to TILA.

11. The Courts must understand that there is a difference between paying a debt and buying the debt. The Courts must require any “assignment” to be tested b discovery where the money trail can be examined. What they will discover is that there is no money trail and that the assignment was a sham.  

12. And if the origination documents show the wrong creditor and fail disclose the true fees and profits of all parties identified with the transaction, the documents — note, mortgage and settlement statements are fatally defective and cannot create a perfected lien without overturning centuries of common law, statutory law and regulations governing the banking and lending industries.

H&R Block Unit Pays $28.2M to Settle SEC Claims Regarding Sale of Subprime Mortgages

By Kansas City Business Journal

H&R Block Inc. subsidiary Option One Mortgage Corp. agreed to pay $28.2 million to settle Securities and Exchange Commission    charges that it had misled investors, federal officials announced Tuesday.

The SEC alleged that Option One promised to repurchase or replace residential mortgage-backed securities it sold in 2007 that breached representations and warranties. The subsidiary did not disclose that its financial situation had degraded such that it could not fulfill its repurchase promises.

Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a release that Option One’s subprime mortgage business was hit hard by the collapse of the housing market.

“The company nonetheless concealed from investors that its perilous finances created risk that it would not be able to fulfill its duties to repurchase or replace faulty mortgages in its (residential mortgage-backed securities) portfolios,” Khuzami said in the release.

The SEC said Option One was one of the nation’s largest subprime mortgage lenders, with originations of $40 billion in its 2006 fiscal year. When the housing market began to decline in 2006, the unit was faced with falling revenue and hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of margin calls from creditors.

Parent company H&R Block (NYSE: HRB) provided financing for Option One to meet margin calls and repurchase obligations, but Block was not obligated to do so. Option One did not disclose this reliance to investors.

Option One, now Sand Canyon Corp., did not admit or deny the allegations. It agreed to pay disgorgement of $14.25 million, prejudgment interest of nearly $4 million and a penalty of $10 million.

Kansas City-based H&R Block reported that it still had $430.19 million of mortgage loans on its books from Option One as of Jan. 31. That’s down 16.2 percent from the same period the previous year.

National Notary Association Takes Up Robosigning

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Editor’s Comment: 

National Notary Association to take Up Issue of  Forgery, Robosigning and attesting to authority in corporate capacity.  Arizona’s Ken Bennett, Secretary of State, is among the officials leading the charge on this issue.

Notary Trade Group: Foreclosure Fraud Crisis Highlights Need For Legal, Trusted, Ethical Notarizations

Posted: 21 Apr 2012 09:07 PM PDT

The National Notary Association recently announced:

§ With the foreclosure ‘robo-signing’ crisis and the National Mortgage Settlement sending shockwaves through America’s mortgage industry, three nationally prominent Secretaries of State will convene a special Keynote Panel at the National Notary Association’s 34th Annual Conference this June to discuss the growing demand for trusted, legal notarizations, and what Notaries need to do to increase public protections and reduce liability risks.

§ Secretaries of State Elaine Marshall of North Carolina, Beth Chapman of Alabama, and Ken Bennett of Arizona are at the forefront of developments transforming the role of Notaries Public. Their insights will be a highlight of Conference 2012 — especially in light of mounting nationwide concerns over notarial compliance and risk management.

§ We are pleased that these three influential Secretaries — all of whom are among the top minds in notarial issues — will join us to address the nation’s Notaries and their employers during this critical time,” said NNA President and Chief Executive Officer Thomas A. Heymann.

§ The foreclosure crisis put the spotlight squarely on the high value of legal and ethical notarizations. These Secretaries will provide their perspectives on what needs to be done to strengthen the notarial process and avoid these types of financial crises.”

For more, see Secretaries of State to Address Notary Compliance, Liability, Consumer Protection Following National Mortgage Settlement(Distinguished State Leaders Will Convene Keynote Panel at the National Notary Association’s 2012 Conference in San Diego).

Don’t leave or enter short sale home without quiet title and adequate title insurance.

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U.S. home short sales surpass foreclosure deals for first time

Editor’s Comment: 

Well of course short sales will be higher than REO sales. REO sales of foreclosed property where the bank or its agent owns the property presents a virtually impossible situation with respect to title. The odds are rising every day that a homeowner is going to sue, reverse the eviction, reverse the foreclosure, get title free of the mortgage and note and have the right to exclusive possession. We are getting reports of this across the country. While the banks are trying to keep a stiff upper lip about it all they are in a state of panic (!) because of the loss of ill-gotten gains they thought they had in the bag and (2) because this loss must now be written down on their balance sheet which means that their capital reserves must be correspondingly increased. Where will they get the money?

 SO REO sales are going to be increasingly problematic.

But in a short sale it is the actual homeowner who signs the deed. That eliminates a wild card that is totally out of the control of the banks. The balance of the problem is that the satisfaction of the old mortgage is being executed by parties who have no ownership of the loan nor any agency authority to represent the true creditors (in most cases). But if the short-sale goes thorugh the new buyer can file a quiet title action for a few hundred dollars in fees and a couple of hundred dollars in court costs, and get a judge to sign off on all title claims. To paraphrase American Express’ “don’t leave home without it” It is the best interest of both the old homeowner who could be subject to liability a second time if the real creditor wakes up and in the interest of the new buyer who doesn’t want to lose his home to the claims of some creditor who can actually prove a case. So don’t leave or enter a short-sale home with quiet title — and a REAL title insurance policy that does not exclude claims arising from supposed securitization of the loan.

U.S. home short sales surpass foreclosure deals for first time                                        New Mexico Business Weekly

In a sign that banks are becoming more willing to sell houses for less than the amount that is owed on them, the number of U.S. home short sales surpassed foreclosure deals for the first time, Bloomberg reports, citing Lender Processing Services Inc.

Short sales accounted for 23.9 percent of home purchases in January, the most recent month available, compared with 19.7 percent for sales of foreclosed homes, data compiled by the company show. A year earlier, 16.3 percent of transactions were short sales and 24.9 percent involved foreclosures.

The three largest banks in New Mexico are Wells Fargo, Bank of America and U.S. Bancorp    , respectively.

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