Post Mortum on 2010 “Bad” Decision in Florida

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See CitiBank v Delassio 756 F Supp 2d 1361 2010

This case is often cited by servicers and banks to enforce a note and/or mortgage. Lots of people regarded this decision as “bad” because it approved the foreclosure. The natural impulse is to run from this decision and try to cite others that conflict with it. But this decision was correct AND it provides a blueprint for making your defense successful. The Judge correctly analyzed the law and the facts and found that the homeowner had not proven anything or objected to anything that would prevent Citi from proving its prima facie case and had not proven anything or objected to anything that would have supported any of the homeowner’s defenses.

So I thought I would take this case, as I have done before, and examine it for clues on how the same Judge would have decided the case differently. Used properly this might enable the homeowner to cite to this case in support of a motion to dismiss, motion for summary judgment or to attack the prima facie case of the party initiating foreclosure. There are also plenty of clues as to proving an affirmative defense in which the final result will be that the mortgage is void or unenforceable and perhaps the note as well, leaving the debt, which arises by operation of law and is owed to the party who physically gave the borrower the money.

  1. LACK OF JURISDICTION — VOID MORTGAGE AND VOID NOTE: The first issue is that for reasons unknown, the borrower failed to bring up the fact that the “lender” did not legally exist in Florida and further failed to object to the finding that AHMSI and  American Brokers Conduit were “one in the same [sic]”. In fact, I wonder if the case could not still be overturned on the basis of lack of jurisdiction and perhaps even that the mortgage was void, thus depriving the court of both in rem jurisdiction and in personam jurisdiction. Perhaps the homeowner did not authorize investigation into the parties. But had he done so he would have found that American Brokers Conduit (the “lender”) did not exist in law or in fact. Any claim that ABC was the alter ego or Trade Name of AHMSI was not explored in the opinion. And as to AHMSI, what difference does it make if they were supposedly the true lender under Florida law? The note and mortgage were both defective and the disclosures were deficient in failing to identify the actual party, which, as we shall see below, would have changed the view of the case entirely.
  2. POOLING AND SERVICING AGREEMENT: The title of the case involves U.S. Bank “as indenture trustee.” By stating that without explanation the homeowner ought to be able to inquire about the indenture, where it exists, and ask for a copy. That would be the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, which makes all arguments about the irrelevance of the PSA moot. Failure to raise the question of where the trustee derived its powers, where the servicer derived its powers, and where the terms and provisions can be found for the duties of the servicer or trustee essentially waives the issue of securitization (false or not). By raising the issue appropriately the homeowner can then inquire as to whether the trust actually owns the debt or is a holder in due course. The holding by the judge in this case that the Trust was a holder in due course was wrong —but not wrong on the facts and admissions by both sides in this case. Hence the decision was inevitable even though the real facts did not support the conclusion. The accepted facts of the case were contrary to the actual facts.
  3. FDCPA CLAIMS: The homeowner settled with AHMSI regarding fair debt collection practices. This might have been a mistake and might have been the reason that the Judge regarded AHMSI and American Brokers Conduit as the same thing. The settlement probably was worded in a way that prevented the homeowner from raising the authority of ABC to assign anything, much less record a mortgage or transfer a note that it could not have funded because it never existed — at least in Florida. I have several cases where the lender is very concerned about the FDCPA claims and needs a settlement. They obviously know that there is danger in those hills and that should be exploited by borrowers when challenging the debt, note, mortgage or foreclosure.
  4. TILA AND RESPA DISCLOSURES: Amongst the agreed facts, the court found that the borrower closed the loan with ABC, and based upon the only issues raised by the borrower, found that the disclosures were proper, and that any discrepancies worked to the borrower’s advantage and therefore did not constitute a violation of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) or the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Hence there was no right to rescind either under the 3 day rule or the 3 year rule. Despite the fact that the borrower announced rescission within the 3 years, the court properly found against the borrower. Citi by filing the foreclosure suit, was in substantial compliance with the requirement that it timely file a declaratory action regarding the right to rescind. So if the court had found that there was no closing because ABC did not exist and that the disclosures were inadequate because the borrower raised the issues of disclosing the lender (and avoiding the predatory per se finding by Reg Z), then the same Judge who entered this order probably would have said the rescission right was at least in play and might well have decided, as per the express terms of TILA, that the mortgage was nullified by operation of law by the announcement of rescission. [Note: This issue is currently being considered by the U.S. Supreme Court]
  5. RESCISSION: This in turn leads to the question: if ABC didn’t exist and therefore didn’t actually loan any money then who did? The only thing we can agree on, up to a point ( but that is the subject of another article), is that the borrower did get money and that the receipt of the money is presumed, by operation of law to create a debt in which the borrower is the debtor and the source of funds is the creditor. The failure to disclose a table funded loan or worse, a naked nominee or conduit providing funds from investors who didn’t know how their money was being used, is a material violation of the disclosure requirements in TILA. That is why Reg Z underscores the importance of that disclosure by saying that failure to do so constitutes conduct that is “predatory per se.” And you can prove that by citing to this same case. Hence the rescission would have or at least could have been found to have been complete and the mortgage nullified, thus paving the way for the borrower to get alternative financing,  quiet title or other other remedies.
  6. PREDATORY LOANS: It is unclear what exactly went on at the trial level  with regards to an obviously “trick” loan that fails to disclose its hidden terms in a way that the borrower would any possibility of understanding. The only thing the borrower knew or understood is that he was getting a low interest loan. No reasonable person would sign a loan in which they understood that the interest rate was only good for one month. If you want to win on this point ,though, you need more than the testimony of the borrower. You  need a mortgage broker or other professional that would testify that the loan was unworkable from the start, doomed to failure and was illegally funded from investor funds, and illegally sold to the borrower under false pretenses. THAT is how you prove unclean hands which would prevent enforcement of the mortgage.
  7. UCC: There is an interesting juxtaposition in the “Legal Analysis” of the opinion. The court finds that the Trust was a holder in due course. And this case can be cited for the elements of being a holder in due course. I would encourage foreclosure defense lawyers to do so because you can start out by saying in this case in which the Federal District Court found against the borrower, the elements of the status of holder in due course are summarized. If you go down to the end of the first paragraph in the legal analysis the quote about payment opens the door for your attack against the holder in due course status. Did the Trust prove or show that it PAID for the note and mortgage without knowledge of borrower’s defenses, without knowledge that it was already in default, and in good faith, and did the Trust get delivery (which according to the pleadings, they did not because the note was initially “lost”). Hence the same court that stated that the trust was an HIDC finds that PAYMENT “goes to the heart of the agreement”. If the trust cannot show it paid anything, then two questions arise, to wit: why not? and why did the endorser or assignor of the “loan” transfer or purport to transfer the loan documents to the trust without receiving any payment? If you follow that logic down the line you will corroborate your argument that ABC gave no money to the borrower and that was why ABC never received any money for the transfer of the paper, which now is visible as being entirely worthless, fraudulent and false.
  8. ENDORSEMENT OR ASSIGNMENT IN SECURITIZATION SCHEME: The court correctly states that under the UCC a transferee of negotiable paper can get the right to enforce the paper either by endorsement or assignment. Because the issue was apparently not raised, the court failed to address the issue of whether the enforcement could succeed at trial (as opposed to the pleading stage) if the identity of the creditor is not disclosed. The question at trial or deposition should be, if the witness is from the servicer entity, and assuming the current servicer entity had anything to do with processing payments from the borrower and to the creditor, “who did you pay?” What the court failed to deal with (presumably because the homeowner did not bring it up) is that the party claiming rights (the trustee for the trust) must show that the loan actually went into the trust because it was paid for and properly delivered. If no objection is raised, then the court can correctly presume that those elements are present. If a proper objection is made then the Plaintiff should be required and often is required now to prove the elements of a holder in due course. In cases where my team has been directly involved in litigation the opposing lawyer tried to wriggle out of this problem by declaring that the trust is not a holder in due course and that therefore they had no requirement to prove those elements. They are essentially hoping that the court won’t know the difference between a holder and holder in due course. A mere holder must establish that it has the rights to enforce on behalf of a party who actually owns the debt by identifying that party and identifying the instrument by which the “holder” was given authority to enforce. In the case of a trust that is impossible because by all accounts the trust is the final resting stop of the claims of securitization of loans. So you end up with an empty trust, in which neither the servicer nor the trustee have any legal rights to do anything with the debt created by the borrower when he accepted the money at “closing.” He still owes a debt, and if the opposition would comply with discovery requests we would know the identity of the party to whom he owes the debt. But one thing is for certain, he cannot ALSO owe a second debt created by signature on a note and mortgage made out in favor of a party who loaned him any money. The key to this is emphasizing that a holder must prove the loan in its claimed chain. But the loan will probably be presumed to exist within the chain if the borrower fails to object and raise the issues.
  9. DELIVERY: There is considerable confusion in the case as to the issue of delivery apparently because neither party made an issue about it. The court concludes that Citi got delivery of the loan documents (versus the lost note account that was later abandoned) but fails to show how that delivery constitutes delivery to the trust when the PSA obviously contains strict provisions as to delivery and New York law governing the trust requires any transaction outside the authority stated in the trust to be void.
  10. ECONOMIC WASTE: This decision stands for the proposition that economic waste is a proper affirmative defense, but unless you actually prove it with reliable, credible testimony about facts and documents, merely alleging an affirmative defense and hoping that somehow the opposition will stumble into an admission, is not a very good strategy.

US Supreme Court Hears Argument on TILA-REG Z Rescission

see 13-684_4425

Judges generally don’t like TILA because it contains remedies that “go against the grain.” Specifically TILA and REG Z from the Federal Reserve contain strict guidelines on the form and content of disclosures to borrowers. These laws and regulations went into effect after the Savings and Loan scandal and other evidence surfaced as to deceptive lending practices. The problem for the banks is that they are not satisfied with the small profits they earn on conventional loans.

So they have pushing and crossing the line for decades tricking borrowers into loans that produced short-term “profit” but long term losses when the unbalanced loans went into default. Then they started fooling investors who saw short term “profits” and long term losses — many times total losses — on loans that were supposedly originated or acquired through the use of a REMIC Trust; but it turned out the trust was ignored and the money was not subject to the industry standard lending practices. The profits on these unconventional investments and loans were staggering because the intermediaries got to keep much of what was invested. And that accounts for the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on advertising “low-interest” or “alternative” or “option” loans — where the apparent interest rate charged to borrowers was as low as 1% but the profits claimed on the loan were far higher, even exceeding the loan itself.

So people started sending rescission letters. The Federal law says that sending the rescission letter is effectively a nullification of the mortgage and requires the “lender” to return all money paid to anyone in connection with the loan. In a normal rescission the party rescinding must return whatever they received.

Borrowers thinking that they had to “return” the house failed to understand the law and many lawyers didn’t get it either. In fact, the only thing that had to be “returned” was the loan of money. In a conventional loan that would have been easy to do logistically. But in the case of loans subjected to false claims of securitization, and where the investor money was thrown around like a drunken sailor, it is not so easy to figure out who gets the “return” of the money loaned (AFTER the lender returns to the borrower all money and compensation paid by borrower directly or indirectly including all parties who received compensation whether disclosed or not at closing of the loan).

In fact, many times the reason that borrowers rescinded was because of inadequate disclosure (like a loan that resets to twice the household income after a term of months or years) and because they were being contacted or accosted by companies that were claiming rights to collect the loan when the borrower had never entered into any agreement with those entities and those entities refused to state the basis of claiming the right to collect.

Still the issue of repayment remains at least theoretically, if the net amount due to the actual lender is above zero. But the issue is if the “lender” did not loan the money in the first place, and the mortgage names that “lender”the repayment to that lender would expose the borrower to a second debt owed to the investors whose money was used directly or indirectly to fund the loans. Trusting the loan originator to send the funds to the investors does not appeal to anyone. By and large it won’t happen. In fact many originators were naked nominees — empty shells — that went out of business long before the borrower realized it had a right to rescind that the borrower wanted to exercise.

In order to actually “return” the loan, the borrower needed to clear title and secure a more conventional loan from an alternative source. That is why the statute and regulations state that the security instrument is void by operation of law upon notice from borrower of their exercise of the right of rescission. This feature bugs judges on trial and appellate benches because they are confusing common law rescission with the specific rules of statutory rescission provided in TILA and Reg Z. They want a tender of the money before the rescission is final. But that is not possible without clearing title. So the courts are vacillating between what kind of tender is required — upfront cash, a plan of repayment, or leaving it as an open ended claim. The last one is what was intended by the statute because most lending banks would have required payment of the prior debt, whether secured or not.

That would have worked out well but for one thing — appraisal fraud. The new lending institution who was making an actual loan of their own money or credit was hiring appraisers within standard industry practices — to find out the real fair market value so that the new and real lender could minimize its risk. THAT put the borrower further behind the eight ball, because they could not get an affordable loan for a principal amount that would cover the prior unconventional loan clouded by false claims of securitization. The rescinded loan was falsely inflated by a false appraisal for which the “lender” was responsible under all state and federal laws. Thus no new loan could cover the prior “debt” that was created under false pretenses.

Thus we have a conflict in the actual application of the laws and rules, which the US Supreme court agreed to hear and which hopefully will be cleared up by the Supremes without further complications and confusion. The link above is a transcript of oral argument. It is a good read.

Hopefully the court will understand that this problem was neither invented nor caused by the borrowers. The Federal statute must be cleared for use by borrowers or the entire legislative intent will be defeated. A decision that dilutes the right of rescission will deprive borrowers of the only tool they have for effectively pushing back against deceptive lending practices.

Securitization for Lawyers

For more information on foreclosure offense, expert witness consultations and foreclosure defense please call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688. We offer litigation support in all 50 states to attorneys. We refer new clients without a referral fee or co-counsel fee unless we are retained for litigation support. Bankruptcy lawyers take note: Don’t be too quick admit the loan exists nor that a default occurred and especially don’t admit the loan is secured. FREE INFORMATION, ARTICLES AND FORMS CAN BE FOUND ON LEFT SIDE OF THE BLOG. Consultations available by appointment in person, by Skype and by phone.

The CONCEPT of securitization does not contemplate an increase in violations of lending laws passed by States or the Federal government. Far from it. The CONCEPT anticipated a decrease in risk, loss and liability for violations of TILA, RESPA or state deceptive lending laws. The assumption was that the strictly regulated stable managed funds (like pensions), insurers, and guarantors would ADD to the protections to investors as lenders and homeowners as borrowers. That it didn’t work that way is the elephant in the living room. It shows that the concept was not followed, the written instruments reveal a sneaky intent to undermine the concept. The practices of the industry violated everything — the lending laws, investment restrictions, and the securitization documents themselves. — Neil F Garfield, Livinglies.me

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“Securitization” is a word that provokes many emotional reactions ranging from hatred to frustration. Beliefs run the range from the idea that securitization is evil to the idea that it is irrelevant. Taking the “irrelevant” reaction first, I would say that comes from ignorance and frustration. To look at a stack of Documents, each executed with varying formalities, and each being facially valid and then call them all irrelevant is simply burying your head in the sand. On the other hand, calling securitization evil is equivalent to rejecting capitalism. So let’s look at securitization dispassionately.

First of all “securitization” merely refers to a concept that has been in operation for hundreds of years, perhaps thousands of years if you look into the details of commerce and investment. In our recent history it started with “joint stock companies” that financed sailing expeditions for goods and services. Instead of one person or one company taking all the risk that one ship might not come back, or come back with nothing, investors could spread their investment dollars by buying shares in a “joint stock company” that invested their money in multiple sailing ventures. So if some ship came in loaded with goods it would more than offset the ships that sunk, were pirated, or that lost their cargo. Diversifying risk produced more reliable profits and virtually eliminated the possibility of financial ruin because of the tragedies the befell a single cargo ship.

Every stock certificate or corporate or even government bond is the product of securitization. In our capitalist society, securitization is essential to attract investment capital and therefore growth. For investors it is a way of participating in the risk and rewards of companies run by officers and directors who present a believable vision of success. Investors can invest in one company alone, but most, thanks to capitalism and securitization, are able to invest in many companies and many government issued bonds. In all cases, each stock certificate or bond certificate is a “derivative” — i.e., it DERIVES ITS VALUE from the economic value of the company or government that issued that stock certificate or bond certificate.

In other words, securitization is a vehicle for diversification of investment. Instead of one “all or nothing” investment, the investors gets to spread the risk over multiple companies and governments. The investor can do this in one of two ways — either manage his own investments buying and selling stocks and bonds, or investing in one or more managed funds run by professional managers buying and selling stocks and bonds. Securitization of debt has all the elements of diversification and is essential to the free flow of commerce in a capitalistic economy.

Preview Questions:

  • What happens if the money from investors is NOT put in the company or given to the government?
  • What happens if the certificates are NOT delivered back to investors?
  • What happens if the company that issued the stock never existed or were not used as an investment vehicle as promised to investors?
  • What happens to “profits” that are reported by brokers who used investor money in ways never contemplated, expected or accepted by investors?
  • Who is accountable under laws governing the business of the IPO entity (i.e., the REMIC Trust in our context).
  • Who are the victims of misbehavior of intermediaries?
  • Who bears the risk of loss caused by misbehavior of intermediaries?
  • What are the legal questions and issues that arise when the joint stock company is essentially an instrument of fraud? (See Madoff, Drier etc. where the “business” was actually collecting money from lenders and investors which was used to pay prior investors the expected return).

In order to purchase a security deriving its value from mortgage loans, you could diversify by buying fractional shares of specific loans you like (a new and interesting business that is internet driven) or you could go the traditional route — buying fractional shares in multiple companies who are buying loans in bulk. The share certificates you get derive their value from the value of the IPO issuer of the shares (a REMIC Trust, usually). Like any company, the REMIC Trust derives its value from the value of its business. And the REMIC business derives its value from the quality of the loan originations and loan acquisitions. Fulfillment of the perceived value is derived from effective servicing and enforcement of the loans.

All investments in all companies and all government issued bonds or other securities are derivatives simply because they derive their value from something described on the certificate. With a stock certificate, the value is derived from a company whose name appears on the certificate. That tells you which company you invested your money. The number of shares tells you how many shares you get. The indenture to the stock certificate or bond certificate describes the voting rights, rights to  distributions of income, and rights to distribution of the company is sold or liquidated. But this assumes that the company or government entity actually exists and is actually doing business as described in the IPO prospectus and subscription agreement.

The basic element of value and legal rights in such instruments is that there must be a company doing business in the name of the company who is shown on the share certificates — i.e., there must be actual financial transactions by the named parties that produce value for shareholders in the IPO entity, and the holders of certificates must have a right to receive those benefits. The securitization of a company through an IPO that offers securities to investors offer one additional legal fiction that is universally enforced — limited liability. Limited liability refers to the fact that the investment is at risk (if the company or REMIC fails) but the investor can’t lose more than he or she invested.

Translated to securitization of debt, there must be a transaction that is an actual loan of money that is not merely presumed, but which is real. That loan, like a stock certificate, must describe the actual debtor and the actual creditor. An investor does not intentionally buy a share of loans that were purchased from people who did not make any loans or conduct any lending business in which they were the source of lending.

While there are provisions in the law that can make a promissory note payable to anyone who is holding it, there is no allowance for enforcing a non-existent loan except in the event that the purchaser is a “Holder in Due Course.” The HDC can enforce both the note and mortgage because he has satisfied both Article 3 and Article 9 of the Uniform Commercial Code. The Pooling and Servicing Agreements of REMIC Trusts require compliance with the UCC, and other state and federal laws regarding originating or acquiring residential mortgage loans.

In short, the PSA requires that the Trust become a Holder in Due Course in order for the Trustee of the Trust to accept the loan as part of the pool owned by the Trust on behalf of the Trust Beneficiaries who have received a “certificate” of fractional ownership in the Trust. Anything less than HDC status is unacceptable. And if you were the investor you would want nothing less. You would want loans that cannot be defended on the basis of violation of lending laws and practices.

The loan, as described in the origination documents, must actually exist. A stock certificate names the company that is doing business. The loan describes the debtor and creditor. Any failure to describe the the debtor or creditor with precision, results in a failure of the loan contract, and the documents emerging from such a “closing” are worthless. If you want to buy a share of IBM you don’t buy a share of Itty Bitty Machines, Inc., which was just recently incorporated with its assets consisting of a desk and a chair. The name on the certificate or other legal document is extremely important.

In loan documents, the only exception to the “value” proposition in the event of the absence of an actual loan is another legal fiction designed to promote the free flow of commerce. It is called “Holder in Due Course.” The loan IS enforceable in the absence of an actual loan between the parties on the loan documents, if a third party innocent purchases the loan documents for value in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defense of failure of consideration (he didn’t get the loan from the creditor named on the note and mortgage).  This is a legislative decision made by virtually all states — if you sign papers, you are taking the risk that your promises will be enforced against you even if your counterpart breached the loan contract from the start. The risk falls on the maker of the note who can sue the loan originator for misusing his signature but cannot bring all potential defenses to enforcement by the Holder in Due Course.

Florida Example:

673.3021 Holder in due course.

(1) Subject to subsection (3) and s. 673.1061(4), the term “holder in due course” means the holder of an instrument if:

(a) The instrument when issued or negotiated to the holder does not bear such apparent evidence of forgery or alteration or is not otherwise so irregular or incomplete as to call into question its authenticity; and
(b) The holder took the instrument:

1. For value;
2. In good faith;
3. Without notice that the instrument is overdue or has been dishonored or that there is an uncured default with respect to payment of another instrument issued as part of the same series;
4. Without notice that the instrument contains an unauthorized signature or has been altered;
5. Without notice of any claim to the instrument described in s. 673.3061; and
6. Without notice that any party has a defense or claim in recoupment described in s. 673.3051(1).
673.3061 Claims to an instrument.A person taking an instrument, other than a person having rights of a holder in due course, is subject to a claim of a property or possessory right in the instrument or its proceeds, including a claim to rescind a negotiation and to recover the instrument or its proceeds. A person having rights of a holder in due course takes free of the claim to the instrument.
This means that Except for HDC status, the maker of the note has a right to reclaim possession of the note or to rescind the transaction against any party who has no rights to claim it is a creditor or has rights to represent a creditor. The absence of a claim of HDC status tells a long story of fraud and intrigue.
673.3051 Defenses and claims in recoupment.

(1) Except as stated in subsection (2), the right to enforce the obligation of a party to pay an instrument is subject to:

(a) A defense of the obligor based on:

1. Infancy of the obligor to the extent it is a defense to a simple contract;
2. Duress, lack of legal capacity, or illegality of the transaction which, under other law, nullifies the obligation of the obligor;
3. Fraud that induced the obligor to sign the instrument with neither knowledge nor reasonable opportunity to learn of its character or its essential terms;
This means that if the “originator” did not loan the money and/or failed to perform underwriting tests for the viability of the loan, and gave the borrower false impressions about the viability of the loan, there is a Florida statutory right of rescission as well as a claim to reclaim the closing documents before they get into the hands of an innocent purchaser for value in good faith with no knowledge of the borrower’s defenses.

 

In the securitization of loans, the object has been to create entities with preferred tax status that are remote from the origination or purchase of the loan transactions. In other words, the REMIC Trusts are intended to be Holders in Due Course. The business of the REMIC Trust is to originate or acquire loans by payment of value, in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. Done correctly, appropriate market forces will apply, risks are reduced for both borrower and lenders, and benefits emerge for both sides of the single transaction between the investors who put up the money and the homeowners who received the benefit of the loan.

It is referred to as a single transaction using doctrines developed in tax law and other commercial cases. Every transaction, when you think about it, is composed of numerous actions, reactions and documents. If we treated each part as a separate transaction with no relationship to the other transactions there would be no connection between even the original lender and the borrower, much less where multiple assignments were involved. In simple terms, the single transaction doctrine basically asks one essential question — if it wasn’t for the investors putting up the money (directly or through an entity that issued an IPO) would the transaction have occurred? And the corollary is but for the borrower, would the investors have been putting up that money?  The answer is obvious in connection with mortgage loans. No business would have been conducted but for the investors advancing money and the homeowners taking it.

So neither “derivative” nor “securitization” is a dirty word. Nor is it some nefarious scheme from people from the dark side — in theory. Every REMIC Trust is the issuer in an initial public offering known as an “IPO” in investment circles. A company can do an IPO on its own where it takes the money and issues the shares or it can go through a broker who solicits investors, takes the money, delivers the money to the REMIC Trust and then delivers the Trust certificates to the investors.

Done properly, there are great benefits to everyone involved — lenders, borrowers, brokers, mortgage brokers, etc. And if “securitization” of mortgage debt had been done as described above, there would not have been a flood of money that increased prices of real property to more than twice the value of the land and buildings. Securitization of debt is meant to provide greater liquidity and lower risk to lenders based upon appropriate underwriting of each loan. Much of the investment came from stable managed funds which are strictly regulated on the risks they are allowed in managing the funds of pensioners, retirement accounts, etc.

By reducing the risk, the cost of the loans could be reduced to borrowers and the profits in creating loans would be higher. If that was what had been written in the securitization plan written by the major brokers on Wall Street, the mortgage crisis could not have happened. And if the actual practices on Wall Street had conformed at least to what they had written, the impact would have been vastly reduced. Instead, in most cases, securitization was used as the sizzle on a steak that did not exist. Investors advanced money, rating companies offered Triple AAA ratings, insurers offered insurance, guarantors guarantees loans and shares in REMIC trusts that had no possibility of achieving any value.

Today’s article was about the way the IPO securitization of residential loans was conceived and should have worked. Tomorrow we will look at the way the REMIC IPO was actually written and how the concept of securitization necessarily included layers of different companies.

RESCISSION REVIVED BY 9TH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS

Hat tip to Ken McLeod and to Ron Ryan who argued endlessly that the former ruling was wrong in Arizona. Ron Ryan is a good lawyer and Ken McLeod is a good investigator. Both have years of experience investigating, analyzing and fighting illegal foreclosures.

Courts are catching on and as I have predicted, the ultimate determination of the merits of foreclosure cases are largely going to turn on the application of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) and the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA). Previously this same court held that tender of the money was required to rescind a transaction — the exact opposite of what the Federal statutes and regulations required. Now, correcting its prior error, the court says that a cause of action and defense exists by pleading rescission. Any document indicating the intent to rescind is sufficient.

The purpose of the TILA provision was to put the burden on the lender to prove that they had complied with all aspects of TILA in providing adequate disclosure and otherwise performing those acts required for a valid closing. If the defense is that the loan contract was not completed because of lack of consideration or other violations of TILA or RESPA, then the appropriate action is to send a rescission letter. It then falls on the “lender” to file an action within 20 days to object to the rescission or return all money paid by the borrower and to file a satisfaction of mortgage along with returning the canceled note. And since the allegation of no consideration leaves nothing to be tendered “back”, there is no impediment to going forward with discovery.

This forces “lenders” to essentially file a judicial foreclosure suit and prove they made the loan, they have the right paperwork and made the right disclosures. Table funded loans are going to give them a problem since Reg Z says that any pattern of conduct with table-funded loans is “predatory per se,” it is hard to imagine that this decision won’t stop the “lenders” dead in their tracks.

The requirement of tender assumed that the “lender” had actually made the loan and was the source of funds. Now the Courts are starting to realize that there was a switch at closing with the borrower and very likely a switch at closing with the real lenders — the investors who thought they were buying valuable mortgage bonds. With the borrowers the closing agent took money from an undisclosed party and then had the borrower sign documents in favor of another party. With the investors, the investment bank took money from the investors and instead of funding the trust, used the money and the documents from closing as though it were their own.

Hence the need to fabricate endorsements, assignments etc. If the “securitization” of the loan had taken place there would be a chain of monetary transactions leading up to the ultimate transfer to the trust who would have issued payment for the loan. There would have been no need to fabricate, forge, or robosign documents and certainly no loss of loans due to destruction or misplacement, because the documents would have been forwarded to the named Depository.

The result was that the burden was placed on borrowers with the least access to the real information on the loan and an easy path of defense to the party with the most access to the real facts of the loans and alleged transfers of the loan. TILA was meant to level the playing field. If the borrower invoked rescission without right, then there were consequences. This law was passed to prevent predatory lenders escaping the consequences of illegal actions simply because they had greater resources, sophistication and factual knowledge.

Be careful here. There are several types of rescission — 3 Day, 3 Year and common law. Consult with an attorney who is licensed to practice in the jurisdiction in which your property is located.

For more information call 954-495-9867 or 520-405-1688

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Merritt v. Countrywide Financial Corp.

9th circuit opinion Issued July 16, 2014

Summary: Plaintiffs filed suit against Countrywide and others involved in their residential mortgage, alleging violations of numerous federal statutes. The district court dismissed the claims with prejudice and plaintiffs appealed. The court held that plaintiffs can state a claim for rescission under the Truth in Lending Act (TILA), 15 U.S.C. 1601 et seq., without pleading that they have tendered, or that they have the ability to tender, the value of their loan; only at the summary judgment stage may a court order the statutory sequence altered and require tender before rescission – and then only on a case-by-case basis; and, therefore, the court reversed the district court’s dismissal of plaintiffs’ rescission claim and remanded for further proceedings. The court held that, although the limitations period in the Real Estate Settlement Practices Act (RESPA), 12 U.S.C. 2614, ordinarily runs from the date of the alleged RESPA violation, the doctrine of equitable tolling may, in the appropriate circumstances, suspend the limitations period until the borrower discovers or had reasonable opportunity to discover the violation; just as for TILA claims, district courts may evaluate RESPA claims case-by-case; and, therefore, in this case, the court vacated the dismissal of plaintiffs’ Section 8 of RESPA claims on limitations grounds and remanded for reconsideration.

Merritt v Countryside 9th circuit 09-17678-2014-07-16

 

Unconscionable and Negligent Conduct in Loan Modification Practices

JOIN US EVERY THURSDAY AT 6PM Eastern time on The Neil Garfield Show. We will discuss the Stenberger decision and other important developments affecting consumers, borrowers and banks. We had 561 listeners so far who were on the air with us or who downloaded the show. Thank you — that is a good start for our first show. And thank you Patrick Giunta, Esq. (Broward County Attorney) as our first guest. For more information call 954-495-9867.

In the case of Wane v. Loan Corp. the 11th Circuit struck down the borrower’s attempt to rescind. The reasoning in that case had to do with whether the originator was the real lender. I think, based upon my review of that and other cases, that the facts were not totally known and perhaps could have been and then included in the pleading. It is one thing to say that you don’t think the originator actually paid for the loan. It is quite another to say that a third party did actually pay for the loan and failed to get the note and mortgage or deed of trust executed properly to protect the real source of funds. In order to do that you might need the copy of the wire transfer receipt and wire transfer instructions and potentially a forensic report showing the path of “securitization” which probably never happened.

The importance of the Steinberger decision (see prior post) is that it reverts back to simple doctrines of law rather the complexity and resistance in the courts to apply the clear wording in the Truth in Lending Act. The act says that any statement indicating the desire to rescind within the time limits set forth in the statute is sufficient to nullify the mortgage or deed of trust by operation of law unless the alleged creditor/lender files an action within the prescribed time limits. It is a good law and it covers a lot of the abuses that we see in the legal battleground. But Judges are refusing to apply it. And that includes Appellate courts including the 9th Circuit that wrote into the statute the requirement that the money be tendered “back to the creditor” in order for the rescission to have any legal effect.

The 9th Circuit obviously is saying the they refuse to abide by the statute. The tender back to the creditor need only be a statement that the homeowner is prepared to execute a note and mortgage in favor of the real lender. To tender the money “back” to the originator is to assume they made the loan, which ordinarily was not the case. The courts are getting educated but they are not at the point where they “get it.”

But with the Steinberger decision we can get similar results without battling the rescission issue that so far is encountering nothing but resistance. That case manifestly agrees that a borrower can challenge the authority of those who are claiming money from him or her and that if there are problems with the mortgage, the foreclosure or the modification program in which the borrower was lured into actions that caused the borrower harm, there are damages for the “lender” to pay. The recent Wells Fargo decision posted a few days ago said the same thing. The logic behind that applies to the closing as well.

So lawyers should start thinking about more basic common law doctrines and use the statutes as corroboration for the common law cause of action rather than the other way around. Predatory practices under TILA can be alleged under doctrines of unconscionability and negligence. Title issues, “real lender” issues can be attacked using common law negligence.

Remember that the common allegation of the “lenders” is that they are “holders” — not that they are holders in due course which would require them to show that they paid value for the note and that they have the right to enforce it and collect because the money is actually owed to them. The “holders” are subject to claims detailed in the Steinberger decision without reference to TILA, RESPA or any of the other claims that the courts are resisting. As holders they are subject to all claims and defenses of the borrower. And remember as well that it is a mistake to assume that the mortgage or deed of trust is governed by Article 3 of the UCC. Security instruments are only governed by Article 9 and they must be purchased for value for a party to be able to enforce them.

All of this is predicated on real facts that you can prove. So you need forensic research and analysis. The more specific you are in your allegations, the more difficult it will be for the trial court to throw your claims and defenses out of court because they are hypothetical or too speculative.

Question: who do we sue? Answer: I think the usual suspects — originator, servicers, broker dealer, etc. but also the closing agent.

Rescission Returns in 3rd Circuit Opinion

Forbes has taken notice. There is a shift toward borrowers in mortgage litigation. The decision points back to the origination of the loan. This decision follows a similar decision in the 4th circuit. It all comes down to what actually happened at closing? And we don’t actually know if the decision to allow rescission indefinitely on second mortgages will extend to the first mortgage if it is all part of the same transaction. The result of rescission is that all payments of every kind must be returned to the borrower plus interest and attorney fees and potentially treble damages. All payments mean closing costs, fees, costs, expenses, principal interest, escrow and anything else. If the “lender” doesn’t do that the mortgage lien is expressly invalidated by operation of law, which is the same as being subject to a recorded satisfaction of mortgage. TILA is back!! — at least until the Supreme Court gets to weigh in on this ongoing dispute.

TILA requires only a clear statement and communication that the borrower wishes to rescind the transaction. The statute is clear that the burden shifts to the “lender” to either agree to rescission or sue to disqualify the rescission that must be supported by allegations and proof that the lender violated disclosure requirements at the time of origination of the loan. To be sure, there is a loophole created by the courts — that the rescinding borrower have the money to give back to the lender. But that is exactly what is going to cause the problem for Foreclosers. If the borrower can show some credible source of funds, the “lender” is screwed — because the lender is not the party who was named on the note and mortgage.

So the offer of the money will immediately cause an inquiry and discovery into the question who actually was the lender? We certainly don’t want to give the rescission money to the named party on the note and mortgage when the source of funds was a party with no legal relationship to the named “lender.” The facts will show that the mortgage lien was never perfected —and that therefore rescission under TILA is potentially unnecessary.

Either way, the debt turns up unsecured and can be discharged in bankruptcy. The problem for Wall Street is how they will explain to investors why the investors were not identified as the lenders in each closing. The answer is that Wall Street Banks wanted to use those loans as “assets” they could trade, insure, hedge and even sell contrary to the prospectus and PSA shown to pension Funds and other investors who advanced funds to investment banks as “payment” for mortgage bonds underwritten by those banks.

When the limelight is focused on the original closing, Pandora’s box will open for the bankers. It will show that they never used the money from investors to buy bonds issued by a REMIC trust. It will show the trusts to be unfunded. It will show the unfunded trusts never bought or funded the loans. It will show that the disclosure requirements and the reason for TILA (borrowers’ choices in the marketplace) were regularly violated.

That in turn will lead to the inquiry as to the balance of the loan that is now due. Rescission means giving back what you received. But what if, by operation of law, you have already given back some or all of the money? The investment banker will be hard pressed to describe itself as anything but the agent of the lender investors. As agent, it received payments from insurance, hedges and sales to the Federal Reserve. How will the Wall Street Banks explain why those payments should not be applied to reduce the account receivable of the investor lenders? How many times should the lender be paid on the same debt?

Remember that there is no issue of subrogation, contribution or other claims against the borrower here. They were expressly waived in the contracts for insurance and credit default swaps. Hence the payments should equitably be applied to the benefit of the investors whose money was used to start the false securitization scheme under false pretenses. Once the investors are paid or considered paid because their agents received the money from third party co-obligors, what is left for the borrowers to pay? Will the court order the borrower to pay “back” a lender who never made the loan?

Dreamli Zs 6:22pm Sep 28

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2013/02/07/court-decision-gives-borrowers-an-ace-in-the-hole-lenders-a-headache/

Court Decision Gives Lenders A Headache, Borrowers An Ace In The Hole
http://www.forbes.com
A court ruling gives borrowers an unlimited deadline for rescinding second mortgages

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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


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