It is FACT not THEORY: Money Trail is a Trail of Facts; Paper Trail is a Trail of Lies

Neil F Garfield, July 1, 2013: Modification “experts” are criticizing what they see on this site. It gives them the willies to think that they are participating in a fraud or enabling a fraud when they modify a loan with someone who doesn’t own it. So lately they are saying that the articles here have been discredited in court decisions (not true) and that the “theories” described here lack credibility.

What we are talking about here is facts, not theory. Either the foreclosing party, modifying party, or party accepting the short sale owns the note or not — and the FACTS lead wherever they bring us, namely, that if they didn’t pay for the funding of the origination of the loan, they didn’t pay for the acquisition of the loan, and that they didn’t acquire servicing rights to the loan, the lack of standing (legal doctrine, not theory) is complete. The non-ability to submit a credit bid at auction is complete (state statutes, not theory). The liability for slander of title, abuse of process, fraud, forgery, and fabrication of documents describing non-existent transactions needs to be proven, and the damages must also be proven. But with a dismissal or judgment for borrower, the liability part of the case is fairly easy.

Whether you are buying, selling, refinancing, short-selling, modifying or in any way settling or resolving issues with a mortgage loan you do so at your own risk. Banks that offer refinancing are either part of the securitization scheme and are kicking the liability can down the road or they are ignorant of the risk elements of title and liability for a loan that is subject to securitization claims.

If you want to criticize, go ahead and do it. But all people need to know is they can ask the questions in litigation and get the answers and the facts are whatever they are — there is either a cancelled check or wire transfer receipt or there is nothing. If you want to know if it is hot outside, just stick your head out a window, if reading the thermometer is too theoretical for you.

It is often true that the borrower admitted the debt, the note, the mortgage and the default. The trial judge had no choice and neither did the appellate court. These cases come from the inexperience of the pro se litigant or the lawyer who has not researched all of the material.

Don’t get caught in a spitting match about my “theories” versus the rulings of some courts. This is all a work in progress and there are going to be conflict in rulings. One state may appear to give one set of rulings another state may seem just the opposite. the point is that if you are doing good lawyering you are following the facts wherever they take you. And what we are saying is that the money trail does not support the paper trail that the banks have fabricated forged or proffered.

For example: Go to eFANNIE site. They are boasting about funding even before allocating your whole loan commitment or MBS pool, so you can maximize your execution. TRANSLATION: we’ll give you the money before you have to come up with it in real time. The investors put up the money,then the loan applications are solicited, then the money is funded with investor money, then the originator reports the loan closing and assigns it without a paper assignment to the next party in the paper train (securitization) usually the aggregator who assigns them without an actual assignment to the CDO manager at the investment bank that created the mortgage bonds and sold them through a “third party” which was owned or controlled by the investment bank. The paper trail neither reflects nor follows the money trail.

Full Deposition of Angela Edwards “Robo-Verifier” as Servicer for the Plaintiff for Verification of Foreclosure Complaint
http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-06-28/full-deposition-angela-edwards-“robo-verifier”-servicer-plaintiff-verificatio

 

 

Sales by Insiders AT BOA — RATS JUMPING SHIP? THE MARKET TRADERS ARE TAKING POSITIONS FOR A DEATH SPIRAL BY BOA: Somebody knows something… Rats are jumping ship  http://wallstcheatsheet.com/stocks/bank-of-american-corp-director-sells-580k-shares-and-4-insider-sales-to-note.html/?a=viewall

COURTS CAN RETURN PARTIES TO THEIR ORIGINAL POSITION: this would apply to cases where there is no default – through the “stop payment” script and through those who were actually paying. The Court can return the parties to the original position and wipe out arrears and fees.

INVESTIGATION: BOA TRIES SELLING OFF SERVICING RIGHTS TO AVOID LIABILITY (Remember just because they SAY they sold it doesn’t mean they did. We have seen several instances where BOA announced the loan or servicing rights or both were sold off but they were not and BOA ended up being the one “approving” the short-sale or modification).: GREEN TREE SERVICING AND BANK OF AMERICA

“Settlement” Checks Are Bouncing

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Editor’s Note: Adding insult to injury the checks being sent out for the so-called settlement that replaces the foreclosure review required by the federal reserve and the OCC are bouncing causing homeowners to be charged for the bounced check. The banks of course say it is all a big mistake that they forgot to transfer funds. That is probably true.

But it is equally true that these paltry settlement checks are in no way equal to the damage that was caused by the illegal foreclosures which were surfacing during the time that the review process was taking place. The OCC says that we are not allowed to look at that review process or the results because of privacy issues. I say that under the freedom of information act we are entitled to see everything and I’m betting on Elizabeth Warren to get that material and make it public.

It appears that the general context and status of these illegal foreclosures is that they are left standing as though they were legal and that the perpetrators are being let off the hook for a mere payment of $1000 on an average mortgage of $200,000.

It is important to remember that the settlement does not preclude homeowners from filing whatever claims they have even if they have accepted the check. It is also quite clear that the OCC is walking in lockstep with the banking lobby in an effort to protect the megabanks from extinction.

Several practitioners have asked me how to get past the judge who thinks the case is quite simple, to wit: the borrower accepted a loan  and failed to pay it back in the manner specified by the promissory note and therefore borrower’s  contractual  consent to the sale of the home should be enforced. My answer is that there is an issue that needs to be introduced early, repeatedly and emphatically. The issue boils down to whether or not the court is going to decide the case on the actual facts or on faulty presumptions.

The faulty presumption is that the possessor of the note is deemed to be the holder of the note and therefore the holder in due course. That is not what the Uniform Commercial Code says. If it said that than any Courier carrying promissory notes endorsed in blank could collect on those notes to the detriment of both the borrower and the lender. The difference between a possessor of the note and a holder of the note is that the holder of the note acquired the note by virtue of a monetary transaction in which the new entity in the chain paid a sum of money to the last holder of the note. The Uniform Commercial Code specifically requires that in order for an instrument to be construed as a negotiable instrument the transaction requires consideration and consideration consists of payment. Payment means that money actually changed hands. Thus you have a party in possession of the note with proof that they paid for ownership of the note.

The Uniform Commercial Code is quite clear that the transaction must take place in the context of value received by the assignor from the assignee.

The other question  that I have heard from both judges and attorneys relates to the so-called open endorsements. First, there is no transfer of ownership without consideration as I have detailed above. Second, open endorsements are specifically prohibited in the body of the pooling and servicing agreement upon which the forecloser  relies for authority to proceed with the notice of default and the notice of sale or the filing of a judicial action seeking foreclosure.

I have heard a judge say that it doesn’t make any difference to him what details were involved in the transaction as long as the original note shows that it was endorsed in blank or otherwise constituted an open endorsement. Those judges are ignoring the requirements for consideration or value in order to treat the note as a negotiable instrument and thus apply the presumptions set forth in the Uniform Commercial Code.

They are also ignoring the fact that the pooling and servicing agreement specifically prohibits the open endorsement, which is no surprise since an open endorsement would not protect the investors whose money was used to fund the alleged mortgage loan. In fact it could fairly be said that the open endorsement or endorsement in blank produces a unique result, to wit: the only party who could not accept the note and claim ownership of the loan is the party that is doing exactly that. They can’t say that their authority comes from the pooling and servicing agreement but that the prohibition against open endorsements does not apply. Either the pooling and servicing agreement means something or it doesn’t.

But the key issue is actually the money and the money trail. Neither the trust nor any other party is entitled to a presumption of the status of a holder without alleging and proving that they paid for the note and attaching the relevant documents showing the sale of the note from the former holder of the note (if in fact they were actually a former holder of the note), giving the date, identifying the parties and showing the amount paid.  Alleging that they are the holder of the note is a legal conclusion and not a short and plain statement of ultimate facts upon which relief could be granted. The short and plain statement of ultimate facts should be that on a certain date they paid a certain amount of money to a certain party who all owned the loan and that therefore they are a holder entitled to enforce the note and mortgage.

A failure to state that they were in fact damaged or to allege facts from which the trier of fact could conclude that they were damaged is a fatal defect in pleading and is a jurisdictional issue that can be raised at any time including on appeal —  unless of course in the trial court the borrower admitted that the party seeking foreclosure was in fact the holder of the note.

If you follow these simple steps,  the attorneys for the bank will fight tooth and nail for presumptions rather than facts.  The reason is simple. They have no evidence of payment for the origination or transfer of the loan and therefore the presumption they wish to raise as a holder of the note is rebutted.
So you might want to ask the judge a question that goes something like this: “Judge, do you want to decide this case on the actual facts or do you want to decide this case on the basis of faulty presumptions that are contrary to the facts.

Foreclosure Review Report Shows That the OCC Continues to Bury Wall Street’s Bodies
http://truth-out.org/news/item/15767-foreclosure-review-report-shows-that-the-occ-continues-to-bury-wall-streets-bodies

Foreclosure-abuse settlement checks bounce
http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-foreclosure-settlement-checks-bounce-20130418,0,5585306.story

Independent Foreclosure Review Fiasco: OCC and Fed Decided Not to Find Harm
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/independent-foreclosure-review-fiasco-occ-and-fed-decided-not-to-find-harm.html

Jeffrey Sachs Calls Out Wall Street Criminality and Pathological Greed
http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/04/jeffrey-sachs-calls-out-wall-street-criminality-and-pathological-greed.html

Banks Throw $20 Billion at Securitized Debt Market to Avoid Markdowns

Bloomberg Reports that the big banks are borrowing big time money using money market funds as source money for financing repurchase agreements. This stirs the obvious conclusion that the mortgage bonds — and hence the claim on underlying loans — are in constant movement making the proof problems in foreclosure proceedings difficult at best.

The underlying theme is that there is tremendous pressure to make good on the mortgage bonds that never actually existed issued by REMIC trusts that were never actually funded who made claims on loans that never actually existed. All that is why I say you should argue away from the presumption and keep the burden of persuasion or burden of proof on the party who has exclusive access to the actual proof of payment and proof of loss.

The banks are still claiming assets on their balance sheet that are either without value of any kind or something close to zero. If I was wrong about this, the banks would be flooding all the courts with proof of payment (canceled check, wire transfer receipt etc) and the contest with borrowers would be over.

Instead they argue for the presumption that attaches to the “holder” and mislead the court into thinking that possession is the same as being the holder. It isn’t. The holder is someone who acquired the instrument “for value.” By denying the holder status and contesting whether there was any consideration for the endorsement or assignment of the loan, you are putting them in position to force them to come clean and show that there was NO consideration, NO money paid, and hence they are not holders in any sense of the word.

If you research the law in your state you will find that the prima facie case required from the would-be forecloser depends factually upon whether they are an injured party. If they didn’t pay anything for the origination or transfer of the loan, they can’t be an injured party. They must also show that their injury stems from the breach of the borrower and the breach of some intermediary. That is where the repurchase agreements and financing for all those purchases comes into the picture.

So far the banks have been largely successful in using bootstrap reasoning that a possessor is a holder and a holder is therefore a holder in due course by operation of the presumptions arising from the Uniform Commercial Code. And since normally a presumption shifts the burden to the other side (the borrower in this case) to come up with legally admissible evidence that the facts do not support the presumption, the borrower or borrower’s counsel sits there in the courtroom stumped.

Further research, however, will show that if the facts needed to prove the presumption to be unsupported by facts are in the sole care, custody and control of the claiming party, you are entitled to conduct discovery and that means they must come up with the actual cancelled check, wire transfer receipt, wire transfer instructions etc. The would-be forecloser cannot block discovery by asserting the presumption arising from their own self-serving allegation of holder status.

In this case the presumption arising from the allegation that the would-be forecloser is a “holder” is defeated by mere denial because it is ONLY the would-be forecloser that has access to the the actual proof of payment and proof of loss. I remind you again that the debt is not the note and the note is not the mortgage. They are all separate issues.

This is becoming painfully obvious as reports are coming in from across the country indicating that courts at all levels and legislatures are under intense pressure to find a loophole through which the mega banks can escape the truth, to wit: that they are holding worthless paper and that the only transaction that ever actually occurred was the one between the investors and the borrowers without either  of those parties in interest being aware of the slight of hand pulled by the banks. The banks diverted the money invested by pension funds from the REMIC trusts into their own pockets. The banks diverted the documents that would have solidified the interest of the investors in those loans to themselves.

And let there be no mistake that the banks planned the whole thing out ahead of time. The only reason why MERS and other private label title databases were necessary was to hide the fact that the banks were trading the investments made by pension funds as if they were their own. Otherwise there would have been no reason to have anyone’s name on the note or mortgage other than the asset pool designated as a REMIC trust.

These exotic instruments are being tested by the marketplace and they are failing miserably. So the banks are throwing tens of billions of dollars to refinance the repurchase of the derivatives that were worthless in the first place. It’s worth it to them to retain the trillions of dollars they are claiming as assets that are unsupported by any actual monetary transactions. AND THAT is why in the final analysis, after they have beaten you to a pulp in court, if you are still standing, you get some amazing offers of settlement that actually are still fractions of a cent on the dollar.

Banking giants lead repo funding of securitized debt
http://www.housingwire.com/fastnews/2013/04/16/banking-giants-lead-repo-funding-securitized-debt

Banks Get Amnesty in Pieces: Reviews to Be Halted

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

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

Editor’s Comment: Hat tip to Brent Bertrim. The banks  have sought amnesty in dozens of attempts in legislation, judicial decisions, and with law enforcement. The multistate settlement effectively stopped the criminal investigation. The other “settlements” have effectively stopped other administrative actions that should have revoked bank charters and dismembered the mega banks.

Now even the review process intended to reveal the monetary damage and theft by the banks is about to be stopped by yet another “settlement” for $10 Billion — an amount that is less than the interest earned in one month by the major bank players under current “bailout” deals with the Federal Reserve. This money will do nothing for most people but because it sounds like a lot of money, some are expressing happiness over it. The government just didn’t do its job on the most pressing problem in American economic history caused by criminal conduct.

The loss of income and wealth by the majority of homeowners is and will continue to be devastating to the families of this flagrant abuse of power and trust by the nation’s largest banks. Correcting the corruption of title records will take decades alone. And income and wealth disparity caused by bank theft will take the same amount of time except for those who fight and win, one case at a time.

This effectively leaves the homeowner out in the cold and it does damage to the investors who put up the money for bogus mortgage bonds. Bottom Line: It’s all on a case by case basis one battle at a time for homeowners who in many cases lack resources or have just moved on —- with the knowledge the viewpoint that that the system is rigged. So much for the shining city on the hill.

Settlement Expected on Past Abuses in Home Loans

Published:31-Dec’12 01:39 ET

By:Jessica Silver-Greenberg

Banking regulators are close to a $10 billion settlement with 14 banks that would end the government’s efforts to hold lenders responsible for foreclosure abuses like faulty paperwork and excessive fees that may have led to evictions, according to people with knowledge of the discussions.

Under the settlement, a significant amount of the money, $3.75 billion, would go to people who have already lost their homes, making it potentially more generous to former homeowners than a broad-reaching pact in February between state attorneys general and five large banks. That set aside $1.5 billion in cash relief for Americans.

Most of the relief in both agreements is meant for people who are struggling to stay in their homes and need the banks to reduce their payments or lower the amount of principal they owe.

The $10 billion pact would be the latest in a series of settlements that regulators and law enforcement officials have reached with banks to hold them accountable for their role in the 2008 financial crisis that sent the housing market into the deepest slump since the Great Depression . As of early 2012, four million Americans had been foreclosed upon since the beginning of 2007, and a huge amount of abandoned homes swamped many states, including California, Florida and Arizona.

Federal agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Justice Department are continuing to pursue the banks for their packaging and sale of troubled mortgage securities that imploded during the financial crisis.

Housing advocates were largely unaware of the latest rounds of secret talks, which have been occurring for roughly a month. But some have criticized the government for not dealing more harshly with bankers in light of their lax standards for making loans and packaging them as investments, as well as their problems with modifying troubled loans and processing foreclosures.

A deal could be reached by the end of the week between the 14 banks and the nation’s top banking regulators, led by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, four people with knowledge of the negotiations said. It was unclear how many current and former homeowners would receive money or when it would be distributed.

Told on Sunday night of the imminent settlement, Lynn Drysdale, a lawyer at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid and a former co-chairwoman of the National Association of Consumer Advocates, said: “It’s certainly a victory for consumers and could help entire neighborhoods. But the devil, as they say, is in the details, and for those people who have had to totally uproot their lives because of eviction it may still not be enough.”

In recent weeks within the upper echelons of the comptroller’s office, pressure was mounting to negotiate a banner settlement with the banks, according to people with knowledge of the matter. The reason was that some within the agency had started to realize that a mandatory review of millions of bank loans was not yielding meaningful examples of the banks’ wrongfully evicting homeowners who were current on their payments or making partial payments, according to the people.

Representative of banking regulators did not return calls for comment on Sunday.

The biggest action against the banks for foreclosure-related abuses has been the $26 billion settlement between the five largest mortgage servicers and the state attorneys general, Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development after allegations arose in 2010 that bank employees were churning daily through hundreds of documents used in foreclosure proceedings without properly reviewing them for accuracy.

The same banks in that settlement — JPMorgan Chase , Bank of America , Wells Fargo , Citigroup and Ally Financial — are included in the current negotiations.

Under the terms of the settlement being negotiated, $6 billion would come from banks to be used for relief for homeowners, including reducing their principal, helping them refinance and donating abandoned homes, the people said.

The proposed settlement would also halt a separate sweeping review of more than four million loan files that the comptroller’s office and the Federal Reserve required the banks undertake as part of a consent order in April 2011.

Under the terms of the order, the 14 banks had to hire independent consultants to pore through the loan records to determine whether the banks illegally charged fees, forced homeowners to take out costly insurance or miscalculated loan payment amounts. Consultants initially estimated that each loan would take about eight hours, at a cost of up to $250 an hour, to go through.

The costs of the reviews have ballooned, though, according to people with knowledge of the reviews, in part because each loan file is taking up to 20 hours to review. Since its inception, the reviews have cost the banks about $1.5 billion, according to those people.

Pressure to reach a settlement with the banks has been building, particularly within the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, amid widespread frustration that the banks’ mandatory review of loan files was arduous and expensive, and would not yield promised relief to homeowners, according to five former and current banking regulators.

In private meetings with top bank executives, these people said, regulators have admitted that the reviews had gone awry. At one point this month, an official from the comptroller’s office said the agency had “miscalculated” the scope and requirements of the reviews, according to the people with knowledge of the negotiations.

When the settlement discussions heated up this month, some banking executives said they felt they would be vindicated by the regulators. These executives said that they had raised objections to the reviews early on, but those concerns were largely dismissed by regulatory officials, according to the people with knowledge of the negotiations.

Instead, officials from the comptroller’s office, these people said, have used the loan reviews as a negotiating tool, telling banks that they can either sign on to a large settlement or be forced to pay billions over several more years until the consultants finish the reviews.

When regulators approached the banks to broach a settlement this month, they met first with Wells Fargo and proposed that the banks pay $15 billion, according to the people familiar with the discussions. After negotiations, though, the regulators agreed to $10 billion.

All of the 14 banks are expected to sign on.

Monday is Last Day to File for Review and Damages Under Settlement Agreement

CHECK OUT OUR DECEMBER SPECIAL!

What’s the Next Step? Consult with Neil Garfield

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

I have written extensively about the OCC review process, the consent decrees and the settlement wherein you can file for a review of a wrongful foreclosure. Whether this includes foreclosures that are in litigation is doubtful. But if you have already been foreclosed and the “lender” used improper means to do it, the review process is something supposedly designed to give you monetary damages up to $125,000.

I stopped writing about it because the results have been largely unproductive. The good news is that the agreement does NOT preclude you from filing a common law or statutory wrongful foreclosure claim and associated claims like slander of title and quiet title.

The review process, like the judges sitting on the bench basically looks at the claim with a view that the foreclosure would have and should have been completed anyway, even if papers were forged, fabricated and so forth. THAT is because the assumption is still out there that the debt is real, the default is real, the note is valid and the mortgage was valid. Our strategy of Deny and Discover addresses exactly that point.

If you want to preserve your rights under the review process then you need to file by Monday. My suggestion is that lawyers assist clients with preparing the demand for review and specify that the client was not and never was in a financial transaction with the foreclosing entity nor any parties from whom they allege to have received an assignment. Thus the debt. default, note and mortgage were all faked.

It probably ought to be framed pretty much as an objection to claim, in which you make no affirmative allegations but simply deny that the homeowner ever received money from any of those entities. If you make the allegation that you DID receive money from someone else you are creating a burden of proof for the homeowner that cannot be easily met without discovery. The demand in the review should be to produce the wire transfer receipt, wire transfer instructions, cancelled check or any other actual proof of the movement of money in the name of the supposed “lender” or “assignor” or endorser.

The foreclosing entity is going to respond with some version of the property would have been foreclosed anyway, they did act improperly and they offer a couple of thousand dollars for their “error.” If you don’t intend to take them on, then you certainly should file for review because there is a relatively high probability of getting a few thousand dollars — but nothing like $125,000 unless you are successful at showing that there was no right to foreclose because of standing or lack of perfecting the mortgage lien.

Accepting the money doesn’t waive your rights and could pay for a retainer of a lawyer to start wrongful foreclosure proceedings seeking either monetary damages, getting title back in the name of the homeowner or other remedies. But people are getting tired of this entire mess and I don’t blame them for just walking away. At some point it is a personal more than a financial decision.

Yet it irks me that that these bankers sucked something like 1/3 of the world’s wealth out of the system and brought about calamitous results both here and abroad. It bothers me that there is no prosecution, receivership and restitution. So I would like to see more people pursue their rights judicially and administratively.

AP Fannie, Freddie and BOA set to Reduce Principal and Payments

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Editor’s Comment:

Partly as a result of the recent settlement with the Attorneys General and partly because they have run out of options and excuses, the banks are reducing principal and offering to reduce payments as well. What happened to the argument that we can’t reduce principal because it would be unfair to homeowners who are not in distress? Flush. It was never true. These loans were based on fake appraisals at the outset, the liens were never perfected and the banks are staring down a double barreled shotgun: demands for repurchase from investors who correctly allege and can easily prove that the loans were underwritten to fail PLUS the coming rash of decisions showing that the mortgage lien never attached to the land. The banks have nothing left. BY offering principal reductions they get new paperwork that allows them to correct the defects in documentation and they retain the claim of plausible deniability regarding origination documents that were false, predatory, deceptive and fraudulent. 

Fannie, Freddie are set to reduce mortgage balances in California

The mortgage giants sign on to Keep Your Home California, a $2-billion foreclosure prevention program, after state drops a requirement that lenders match taxpayer funds used for principal reductions.

By Alejandro Lazo

As California pushes to get more homeowners into a $2-billion foreclosure prevention program, some Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac borrowers may see their mortgages shrunk through principal reduction.

State officials are making a significant change to the Keep Your Home California program. They are dropping a requirement that banks match taxpayers funds when homeowners receive mortgage reductions through the program.

The initiative, which uses federal funds from the 2008 Wall Street bailout to help borrowers at risk of foreclosure, has faced lackluster participation and lender resistance since it was rolled out last year. By eliminating the requirement that banks provide matching funds, state officials hope to make it easier for homeowners to get principal reductions.

The participation by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, confirmed Monday, could provide a major boost to Keep Your Home California.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac own about 62% of outstanding mortgages in the Golden State, according to the state attorney general’s office. But since the program was unveiled last year, neither has elected to participate in principal reduction because of concerns about additional costs to taxpayers.

Only a small number of California homeowners — 8,500 to 9,000 — would be able to get mortgage write-downs with the current level of funds available. But given the previous opposition to these types of modifications by the two mortgage giants, housing advocates who want to make principal reduction more widespread hailed their involvement.

“Having Fannie and Freddie participate in the state Keep Your Home principal reduction program would be a really important step forward,” said Paul Leonard, California director of the Center for Responsible Lending. “Fannie and Freddie are at some level the market leaders; they represent a large share of all existing mortgages.”

The two mortgage giants were seized by the federal government in 2008 as they bordered on bankruptcy, and taxpayers have provided $188 billion to keep them afloat.

Edward J. DeMarco, head of the federal agency that oversees Fannie and Freddie, has argued that principal reduction would not be in the best interest of taxpayers and that other types of loan modifications are more effective.

But pressure has mounted on DeMarco to alter his position. In a recent letter to DeMarco, congressional Democrats cited Fannie Mae documents that they say showed a 2009 pilot program by Fannie would have cost only $1.7 million to implement but could have provided more than $410 million worth of benefits. They decried the scuttling of that program as ideological in nature.

Fannie and Freddie last year made it their policy to participate in state-run principal reduction programs such as Keep Your Home California as long as they or the mortgage companies that work for them don’t have to contribute funds.

Banks and other financial institutions have been reluctant to participate in widespread principal reductions. Lenders argue that such reductions aren’t worth the cost and would create a “moral hazard” by rewarding delinquent borrowers.

As part of a historic $25-billion mortgage settlement reached this year, the nation’s five largest banks agreed to reduce the principal on some of the loans they own.

Since then Fannie and Freddie have been a major focus of housing advocates who argue that shrinking the mortgages of underwater borrowers would boost the housing market by giving homeowners a clear incentive to keep paying off their loans. They also say that principal reduction would reduce foreclosures by lowering the monthly payments for underwater homeowners and giving them hope they would one day have more equity in their homes.

“In places that are deeply underwater, ultimately those loans where you are not reducing principal, they are going to fail anyway,” said Richard Green of USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate. “So you are putting off the day of reckoning.”

The state will allocate the federal money, resulting in help for fewer California borrowers than the 25,135 that was originally proposed. The $2-billion program is run by the California Housing Finance Agency, with $790 million available for principal reductions.

Financial institutions will be required to make other modifications to loans such as reducing the interest rate or changing the terms of the loans.

The changes to the program will roll out in early June, officials with the California agency said. The agency will increase to $100,000 from $50,000 the amount of aid borrowers can receive.

Spokespeople for the nation’s three largest banks — Wells Fargo & Co., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. — said they were evaluating the changes. BofA has been the only major servicer participating in the principal reduction component of the program.

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

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