Now that you have won your “free “house, what happens next?

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On an upbeat note, we are getting more and more communication from homeowners who have won their cases outright and not subject to confidentiality agreements. Fortunately these happy homeowners have realized that the fight is not yet over but that they are obviously in control of the narrative. A word of caution about the case cited in yesterday’s article where the Judge granted a “free house” to a homeowner. The New Jersey bankruptcy case is potentially persuasive but legal authority that the Judge in your case must obey.

Banks have gone to great lengths in framing the narrative on these mortgages and these foreclosures. Almost everywhere you hear the phrase “free house.” Of course nobody really knows what anyone means by that phrase. “free houses” are a myth, just like the trusts, the assignments and the “holders” of the note and mortgage. Preventing the mortgagee from enforcement does NOT give a free house to anyone, regardless of the circumstances. It is a rare circumstance that the buyer of the new house does not expend thousands of dollars or tens of thousands of dollars or even hundreds of thousands of dollars on the house that they think they now own.

I know thousands perhaps millions put a down payment into a house thinking that their payment was equity they would retrieve when the house was sold or refinanced. A typical case I have witnessed is a home purchased for $500,000 with $100,000 down payment —- 20% of the purchase price based upon appraisals that wildly speculative and untrue.

Then the house gets sold in a short sale for $300,000. If that homeowner had fought the bank and the bank was found not to be the owner of the mortgage or note or debt and the mortgage was found to be unenforceable or even void, did that homeowner get the house for free. $100k down, plus $50k in improvements, furnishings etc. The homeowner is out $150,000 no matter what happens and that is not free. There is no such thing as a free house and there never was. But mortgages and notes are sometimes ab initio (from the start), unenforceable or void and in today’s market most of them fall somewhere in that category.

And there is an area of confusion between property law, bankruptcy law and contract law. Which brings us to the case decided in New Jersey by a bankruptcy court judge. It is the case of Washington versus specialized loan servicing and the Bank of New York Mellon as trustee for the certificate holders of an allegedly asset-backed trust.

This case is far from a cure all that will fix all other foreclosures. I doubt the Judge had jurisdiction to declare the mortgage void. And therein lies a potential problem for the homeowner that won here. The homeowner might lose on appeal or still have a problem even if the bank’s appeal is turned down.

I will point out again that Bank of New York Mellon represents itself as trustee for the certificate holders and old minutes any representation for the trust itself. One might conclude that the trust does not exist and that the certificate holders who obviously are the investors are the real parties in interest as I have repeatedly stated for more than seven years.
And by the way, NJ does not have a homestead exemption, so the debt, which is real and if it can be computed after giving credit for all payments to the creditors from all sources, is still owed and the homestead can still be foreclosed based upon a money judgment. So a free house is just not the right term to describe any of this.

I don’t think the judge realized that the investors were being directly represented by Bank of New York Mellon and that the reference to the bank as a trustee was merely a self-serving statement by the bank in order to block any inquiry into the identity of the certificate holders who were the obvious real parties in interest. In the months and years to come the distinction which I am drawing here will become increasingly important in court rooms across the country.

The bankruptcy judge carefully analyzed the statute of limitations and concluded that there was no way that the loan could be enforced and that therefore the claim in bankruptcy was void. The judge that he didn’t like to give anyone a free house but that was what he had to do in this case in New Jersey.

The foreclosure case in the state court was dismissed for lack of prosecution without prejudice. The effect of that dismissal was one of the things that was in dispute that the bankruptcy judge decided. The bad news is that I am not so sure this decision will be upheld if it is appealed. But even if it is upheld I’m not so sure that the homeowner actually received the free house that the judge expressly said was being given to him by the judges decision. Bankruptcy Judges are known to have an inflated view of their jurisdictional authority. The District Court Judge above him in the same courthouse might have been able to declare the mortgage void, but I doubt if a bankruptcy judge has that authority. But the decision to prevent enforcement of the mortgage in the bankruptcy proceeding and the decision to cause the alleged creditor to be unsecured instead of secured (which is what I have been advocating for 7 years) is probably valid.

The judge decided that both the note and mortgage were unenforceable. He also decided that because they were unenforceable that Bank of New York Mellon did not have a secured claim for purposes of the bankruptcy proceeding. The judge went further than that by stating that the underlying lien is deemed void pursuant to 11 USC 506(a)(1) and (d). So for purposes of that bankruptcy proceeding court made a determination that Bank of New York Mellon did not have secured status. The Court also seemed to accept the agreement of both size that Bank of New York Mellon or a specialized loan servicing had the original note and mortgage.

The Question I have is the same question that Is being asked in many circles today. When all is said and done the mortgage still is present in the county records — it was recorded so it still exists in the county records of the County recorder in the jurisdiction in which the property is located. My question is whether in the absence of a court order stating that the mortgage is void or nullified, and in the absence of the recording of such an order at the county recorders office, will this homeowner be legally correct in assuming that the mortgage will not affect his title and that no payment will be required at the time the homeowner seeks to sell or refinance the property.

It may seem like splitting hairs and maybe It is. But I think there’s a difference between a lien that is in the county records and therefore encumbers the title answer the question of the enforceability of the lean. When you pull up the title chain by hand or by computer, the mortgage will be there. Would you buy that property without getting rid of that mortgage? Would you lend money on that property? In this case the Bankruptcy judge has decided for purposes of the bankruptcy proceeding that the secured status of Bank of New York Mellon did not exist.

I question whether that decision automatically means that the mortgage was in fact nullified or void unless the County recorder accepts the court order for recording and the recorded order is interpreted as nullification unemployed mortgage document. And THAT basically means you need to file a quiet title action, which bring you back to attacking the initial loan transaction ab initio (from the beginning). Unless you can say that the note and mortgage should never have been released from the closing table, much less recorded, I think there is a potential problem lurking in the shadows. The homeowner might be prevented from selling or refinancing the home without the AMGAR program or something like it.

Otherwise what it comes time to sell or refinance the property, the homeowner may find that he still must deal with either paying off somebody claiming to own the mortgage or the homeowner is required to file a quiet title action to resolve the question. Of course the longer the homeowner waits before taking any action to sell or refinance the property, more likely it is that the homeowner will in fact end up with the property unencumbered by the mortgage. My point is that I don’t think that question has been answered and I don’t think that the answer will be consistent across the country.

It is my opinion that nullification of the mortgage as a void instrument that never should’ve been released much less recorded is first required for the Court can consider of cause of action to quiet title in favor of the homeowner and specifically against the encumbrance filed in the county records as a mortgage. I would also Council caution on applying this bankruptcy case to other cases in the State judicial system even in New Jersey.

But I would also say that the distaste of people sitting on the bench for hey results that benefits the homeowner signals bias for which there is no proper foundation. There is no question that these loans, debts, notes, mortgages, assignments and transfers. collection modification and foreclosures are all clouded in obscure schemes created by the banks and not the borrowers. 50 million borrowers did not wake up one morning and meet in some stadium with the idea of defrauding the banks and the federal government and insurers, guarantors and investors. But a handful of Wall Street titans who had become accustomed to their power, did in fact arrogantly pursue a scheme that did defraud borrowers, investors, insurance companies and the U.S. government.

To say that nobody can file a foreclosure is not to say that the debt cannot be enforced. There are causes of action based solely on common law or the note. If a real creditor could step forward showing a real advance of funds, they would probably prevail in at least establishing that the debt is owed from the homeowner and possibly get a money judgment. In states that have little or no homestead exemption the lien can be recorded, attaches the chain of title for the house and can be foreclosed as a judgment lien. But of course that would require the party seeking to enforce the debt to show that they actually advanced the money as a creditor. And THAT is the problem for the banks. If they had that evidence there would be no argument over the enforceability of the alleged loan documents that I call worthless.

They would have produced it long ago if the notes and mortgages were valid documents. They didn’t, they can’t, and that is why Elizabeth Warren is absolutely right in demanding that the principal balance of the debt be corrected downward. And it is stink and no crime for a Judge to apply the law evenly and allow the chips to fall where they may. If that means nobody gets to enforce the mortgage it doesn’t mean the homeowner received a free house.

The debt is due, after all adjustments, and it could be enforced by other means — unless the truth is that the borrowers ARE off the hook because the original debt, upon which all other debts deals rely as their foundation, has already been paid off. Then the homeowner doesn’t owe the money on the original debt and if somebody wants to make a case against the homeowner for recovery of what they actually lost then let them bring that action. Otherwise too bad. If the original debt is paid off through any third party payment (i.e., if the certificate holders have received payment in full directly or indirectly on their investment), then there should be no possibility of a mortgage foreclosure because that is the only debt that is allegedly secured by a mortgage. Other parties who have been lurking in the shadows would have to come into the limelight and allege and prove their case including the allegation that they are losing money as a result of these complex and obscure transactions.

The banks started this and they should suffer the consequences. There is plenty of blame to go around. To have homeowners pay the full price for the bank’s misbehavior, for the servicer’s fraud, and the Wall Street bank’s greedy method of siphoning the life out of our economy is just plain wrong. Even if we want to treat the loan documents as real, the consequences should be spread around and not on banks who are reporting higher and higher profits from aggressive release of reserves that comes from money they stole from investors —- a fact that is now dawning upon securities analysts as they downgraded Wells Fargo and other banks.

Banks Use Trial Modifications as a Pathway to Foreclosure — Neil Garfield Show 6 P.M. EDT Thursdays

Banks Use Modifications Against Homeowners

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It is bad enough that they outright lie to homeowners and tell them they MUST be 90 days behind in payments to get a modification. That isn’t true and it is a ruse to get the homeowner to stop paying and get into a default situation. But the reports from across the country show that the banks are using a variety of tricks and scams to dishonor modification agreements. First they say that just because they did the underwriting and approved the trial modification doesn’t mean that they are bound to make the modification permanent. Most courts disagree. If you make a deal with offer, acceptance and consideration, and one side performs (the homeowner made the trial payments) then the other side must perform (the Bank).

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What is really happening is that the bank is converting the loan from a loan funded by investors to a loan NOT funded by the bank. They are steering people into “in house” loans. The hubris of these people is incredible. Why are the investors sitting on their hands? Do they STILL not get it?
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Regardless of whether the modification is enforced or forced into foreclosure or converted to an in house loan, the investor loses with the stamp of approval from the court. And the borrower is now paying a party that already collected his loan principal several times over while the real lender is getting birdseed. The investors lose no matter how the case is decided. And the Courts are failing to realize that the fate of the money from a Pension Fund is being decided without any opportunity for the investors to have notice, much less be heard.
Why is this important? Because the banks converted one debt from the borrower into many debts — all secured by the same mortgage. It doesn’t work that way in real life — except now, when courts still refuse to educate themselves on the theory and reality of securitization of debt.
http://www.occupy.com/article/when-fighting-your-home-becomes-biggest-fight-your-life
——————————-FROM RECENTSHOWHOW DO YOU KNOW THAT? — Introducing two upcomingCLE Seminars from the Garfield Continuum onVoir Dire of corporate representatives in foreclosure litigation. The first is atwo hour telephone conference devoted exclusively tovoir dire examination and the second is a full day on onlyvoir dire pluscross examination. The show is free. Topreregister for the mini seminar onvoir dire or the full seminar onvoir dire andcross examination (at a discount) call 954-495-9867.

  • Overview of Foreclosure Litigation in Florida and Other States
  • The need for copies of actual case law and even memoranda supporting your line of questioning
  • The Three Rules for Questioning
  • —– (1) Know why you want to inquire
  • —– (2) Listen to the Answer
  • —– (3) Follow up and comment
  • What to ask, and when to ask it
  • The difference between voir dire and cross examination
  • Getting traction with the presiding Judge
  • Developing your goals and strategies
  • Developing a narrative
  • Impeaching the witness before he or she gets started
  • Preparing your own witnesses for voir dire questions

 

IF YOU MISSED IT: Go to blog radio link and click on the Neil Garfield Show — past shows include—-

News abounds as we hear of purchases of loans and bonds. Some of these are repurchases. Some are in litigation, like $1.1 Billion worth in suit brought by Trustees against the broker dealer Merrill Lynch, which was purchased by Bank of America. What do these purchases mean for people in litigation. If the loan was repurchased or all the loan claims were settled, does the trust still exist? Did it ever exist? Was it ever funded? Did it ever own the loans? Why are lawyers unwilling to make representations that the Trust is a holder in due course? Wouldn’t that settle everything? And what is the significance of the $3 trillion in bonds purchased by the Federal Reserve, mostly mortgage backed bonds? This and more tonight with questions and answers:

Adding the list of questions I posted last week (see below), I put these questions ahead of all others:

  1. If the party on the note and mortgage is NOT REALLY the lender, why should they be allowed to have their name on the note or mortgage, why are those documents distributed instead of returned to the borrower because he signed in anticipation of receiving a loan from the party disclosed, as per Federal and state law. Hint: think of your loan as a used car. Where is the contract (offer, acceptance and consideration).
  2. If the party receiving an assignment from the false payee on the note does NOT pay for it, why are we treating the assignment as a cure for documents that were worthless in the first place. Hint: Paper Chase — the more paper you throw at a worthless transaction the more real it appears in the eyes of others.
  3. If the party receiving the assignment from the false payee has no relationship with the real lender, and neither does the false payee on the note, why are we allowing their successors to force people out of their homes on a debt the “bank” never owned? Hint: POLITICS: What is the position of the Federal reserve that has now purchased trillions of dollars of the “mortgage bonds” from banks who never owned the bonds that were issued by REMIC trusts that never received the proceeds of sale of the bonds.
  4. If the lenders (investors) are receiving payments from settlements with the institutions that created this mess, why is the balance owed by the borrower the same after the settlement, when the lender’s balance has been reduced? Hint: Arithmetic. John owes Sally 5 bananas. Hank gives Sally 3 bananas and says this is for John. How many bananas does John owe Sally now?
  5. And for extra credit: are the broker dealers who said they were brokering and underwriting the issuance of mortgage bonds from REMIC trusts guilty of anything when they don’t give the proceeds from the sale of the bonds to the Trusts that issued those bonds? What is the effect on the contractual relationship between the lenders and the borrowers? Hint: VANISHING MONEY replaced by volumes of paper — the same at both ends of the transaction, to wit: the borrower and the investor/lender.

1. What is a holder in due course? When can an HDC enforce a note even when there are problems with the original loan? What does it mean to be a purchaser for value, in good faith, without notice of borrower’s defenses?

2. What is a holder and how is that different from a holder with rights to enforce? What does it mean to be a holder subject to all the maker’s defenses including lack of consideration (i.e. no loan from the Payee).

3. What is a possessor of a note?

4. What is a bailee of a note?

5. If the note cannot be enforced, can the mortgage still be foreclosed? It seems that many people don’t know the answer to this question.

6. The question confronting us is FORECLOSURE (ENFORCEMENT) OF A MORTGAGE. If the status of a holder of a note is in Article III of the UCC, why are we even discussing “holder” when enforcement of mortgages is governed by Article IV of the UCC?

7. Does the question of “holder” or holder in due course or any of that even apply in the original loan transaction? Hint: NO.

8. Homework assignment: Google “Infinite rehypothecation”

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Giunta Prevails on Wells Fargo Motion to Dismiss — Federal Court

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.

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Patrick Giunta, Esq. the lead litigator for the livinglies team has done it again. He filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo while the trial on a foreclosure was underway. Wells Fargo now faces a loss in the foreclosure where their witness admitted to being unable to explain the chain of ownership, the balance and the reason why Wells Fargo refused to cooperate in the sale of the property that would have paid them in full.

This corroborates my strategy that presumes that the foreclosers don’t want the house or the money. What the banks want is a foreclosure judgment that forces the loan onto an investor who does not even know of the existence of the proceedings. besides it being illegal and unfair, it raises questions of jurisdiction and standing, because the actual source of funds — the investors who in reality own the debt directly — receive no notice of the proceeding — and they think they barred by the terms of the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement from even inquiring about the status of the “pool” (which is most likely non-existent except where foreclosure judgments have been entered).

Here Judge Dimitroleas, Federal Judge in the Southern District of Florida, ruled that the Homeowner has rights of action for money damages against dubious claims from “holders”, “servicers” and even “trustees.” Along with other claims, Giunta survived a motion to dismiss the homeowner’s claim for fraudulent misrepresentation — as to the status of the loan, the ownership and the balance.

The fact pattern of this case clearly corroborates the fact that “servicers” are claiming ownership or rights to enforce debts that they don’t own and don’t have any authority to represent the creditor because they are making false claims of securitization. Thus the banks cannot say they actually represent the investors who THOUGHT they were buying mortgage backed securities from a funded trust that was originating and acquiring loans. If they admit the facts in reality they are admitting to committing fraud on the investors, the insurers, the guarantors, and of course the borrowers. The presumption regarding ownership or rights to enforce is directly contrary to the actual facts. And the threshold for rebutting those presumptions is fast falling in Federal and State courts.

Patrick Giunta is located in Broward County Florida.

see Grave – (DE28) – Order on Motion to Dismiss

National Honesty Day? America’s Book of Lies

Today is National Honesty Day. While it should be a celebration of how honest we have been the other 364 days of the year, it is rather a day of reflection on how dishonest we have been. Perhaps today could be a day in which we say we will at least be honest today about everything we say or do. But that isn’t likely. Today I focus on the economy and the housing crisis. Yes despite the corruption of financial journalism in which we are told of improvements, our economy — led by the housing markets — is still sputtering. It will continue to do so until we confront the truth about housing, and in particular foreclosures. Tennessee, Virginia and other states continue to lead the way in a downward spiral leading to the lowest rate of home ownership since the 1990′s with no bottom in sight.

Here are a few of the many articles pointing out the reality of our situation contrasted with the absence of articles in financial journalism directed at outright corruption on Wall Street where the players continue to pursue illicit, fraudulent and harmful schemes against our society performing acts that can and do get jail time for anyone else who plays that game.

It isn’t just that they escaping jail time. The jailing of bankers would take a couple of thousand people off the street that would otherwise be doing harm to us.

The main point is that we know they are doing the wrong thing in foreclosing on property they don’t own using “balances” the borrower doesn’t owe; we know they effectively stole the money from the investors who thought they were buying mortgage bonds, we know they effectively stole the title protection and documents that should have been executed in favor of the real source of funds, we know they received multiple payments from third parties and we know they are getting twin benefits from foreclosures that (a) should not be legally allowed and (b) only compound the damages to investors and homeowners.

The bottom line: Until we address wrongful foreclosures, the housing market, which has always led the economy, will continue to sputter, flatline or crash again. Transferring wealth from the middle class to the banks is a recipe for disaster whether it is legal or illegal. In this case it plainly illegal in most cases.

And despite the planted articles paid for by the banks, we still have over 700,000 foreclosures to go in the next year and over 9,000,000 homeowners who are so deep underwater that their situation is a clear and present danger of “strategic default” on claims that are both untrue and unfair.

Here is a sampling of corroborative evidence for my conclusions:

Senator Elizabeth Warren’s Candid Take on the Foreclosure Crisis

There it was: The Treasury foreclosure program was intended to foam the runway to protect against a crash landing by the banks. Millions of people were getting tossed out on the street, but the secretary of the Treasury believed the government’s most important job was to provide a soft landing for the tender fannies of the banks.”

Lynn Symoniak is Thwarted by Government as She Pursues Other Banks for the Same Thing She Proved Before

Government prosecutors who relied on a Florida whistleblower’s evidence to win foreclosure fraud settlements with major banks two years ago are declining to help her pursue identical claims against a second set of large financial institutions.

Lynn Szymoniak first found proof that millions of American foreclosures were based on faulty and falsified documents while fighting her own foreclosure. Her three-year legal fight helped uncover the fact that banks were “robosigning” documents — hiring people to forge signatures and backdate legal paperwork the firms needed in order to foreclose on people’s homes — as a routine practice. Court papers that were unsealed last summer show that the fraudulent practices Szymoniak discovered affect trillions of dollars worth of mortgages.

More than 700,000 Foreclosures Expected Over Next Year

How Bank Watchdogs Killed Our Last Chance At Justice For Foreclosure Victims

The results are in. The award for the sorriest chapter of the great American foreclosure crisis goes to the Independent Foreclosure Review, a billion-dollar sinkhole that produced nothing but heartache for aggrieved homeowners, and a big black eye for regulators.

The foreclosure review was supposed to uncover abuses in how the mortgage industry coped with the epic wave of foreclosures that swept the U.S. in the aftermath of the housing crash. In a deal with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve, more than a dozen companies, including major banks, agreed to hire independent auditors to comb through loan files, identify errors and award just compensation to people who’d been abused in the foreclosure process.

But in January 2013, amid mounting evidence that the entire process was compromised by bank interference and government mismanagement, regulators abruptly shut the program down. They replaced it with a nearly $10 billion legal settlement that satisfied almost no one. Borrowers received paltry payouts, with sums determined by the very banks they accused of making their lives hell.

Investigation Stalled and Diverted as to Bank Fraud Against Investors and Homeowners

The Government Accountability Office released the results of its study of the Independent Foreclosure Review, conducted by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve in 2011 and 2012, and the results show that the foreclosure process is lacking in oversight and transparency.

According to the GAO review, which can be read in full here, the OCC and Fed signed consent orders with 16 mortgage servicers in 2011 and 2012 that required the servicers to hire consultants to review foreclosure files for efforts and remediate harm to borrowers.

In 2013, regulators amended the consent orders for all but one servicer, ending the file reviews and requiring servicers to provide $3.9 billion in cash payments to about 4.4 million borrowers and $6 billion in foreclosure prevention actions, such as loan modifications. The list of impacted mortgage servicers can be found here, as well as any updates. It should be noted that the entire process faced controversy before, as critics called the IFR cumbersome and costly.

Banks Profit from Suicides of Their Officers and Employees

After a recent rash of mysterious apparent suicides shook the financial world, researchers are scrambling to find answers about what really is the reason behind these multiple deaths. Some observers have now come to a rather shocking conclusion.

Wall Street on Parade bloggers Pam and Russ Martens wrote this week that something seems awry regarding the bank-owned life insurance (BOLI) policies held by JPMorgan Chase.

Four of the biggest banks on Wall Street combined hold over $680 billion in BOLI policies, the bloggers reported, but JPMorgan held around $17.9 billion in BOLI assets at the end of last year to Citigroup’s comparably meager $8.8 billion.

Government Cover-Up to Protect the Banks and Screw Homeowners and Investors

A new government report suggests that errors made by banks and their agents during foreclosures might have been significantly higher than was previously believed when regulators halted a national review of the banks’ mortgage servicing operations.

When banking regulators decided to end the independent foreclosure review last year, most banks had not completed the examinations of their mortgage modification and foreclosure practices.

At the time, the regulators — the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Reserve — found that lengthy reviews by bank-hired consultants were delaying compensation getting to borrowers who had suffered through improper modifications and other problems.

But the decision to cut short the review left regulators with limited information about actual harm to borrowers when they negotiated a $10 billion settlement as part of agreements with 15 banks, according to a draft of a report by the Government Accountability Office reviewed by The New York Times.

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

Wrongful Foreclosure Rate at least 24%: Wrongful or Fraudulent?

The report shows, for example, that an unidentified bank had an error rate of about 24 percent. This bank had completed far more reviews of borrowers’ files than a group of 11 banks involved the deal, suggesting that if other banks had looked over more of their records, additional errors might have been discovered.

http://www.marketpulse.com/20140430/u-s-housing-recovery-struggles/

http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/Latest-News-Wires/2014/0429/Home-buying-loses-allure-ownership-rate-lowest-since-1995

http://www.opednews.com/articles/It-s-Good–no–Great-to-by-William-K-Black–Bank-Failure_Bank-Failures_Bankers_Banking-140430-322.html

[DISHONEST EUPHEMISMS: The context of this WSJ story is the broader series of betrayals of homeowners by the regulators and prosecutors led initially by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and his infamous “foam the runways” comment in which he admitted and urged that programs “sold” as benefitting distressed homeowners be used instead to aid the banks (more precisely, the bank CEOs) whose frauds caused the crisis.  The WSJ article deals with one of the several settlements with the banks that “service” home mortgages and foreclose on them.  Private attorneys first obtained the evidence that the servicers were engaged in massive foreclosure fraud involving knowingly filing hundreds of thousands of false affidavits under (non) penalty of perjury.  As a senior former AUSA said publicly at the INET conference a few weeks ago about these cases — they were slam dunk prosecutions.  But you know what happened; no senior banker or bank was prosecuted.  No banker was sued civilly by the government.  No banker had to pay back his bonus that he “earned” through fraud.

 

 

Judge Zloch Deals Blow to Wells Fargo and Ocwen on Trial by Jury

In a short written opinion Judge William J Zloch, formerly of Notre Dame football fame (quarterback and wide receiver) dealt a huge blow to bankers pretending to be lenders and servicers pretending to be bankers. For him the issue was simple. And he is right. His opinion contains irrefutable logic. Ocwen wanted to escape trial by jury because the mortgage documents contained a waiver. Wells Fargo also wanted to escape trial by jury, but they were being sued vicariously through the actions of Ocwen.

Zloch said no to Ocwen and seems to be saying the same thing to Wells Fargo. His reasoning is simple and bulletproof — the borrower sued Ocwen stating that it had committed various wrongdoing. Ocwen by all accounts is only a servicer and never has been a lender notwithstanding its prior assertions in court, which many judges have rubber stamped and now wish they didn’t.

This decision appears to be important for at least three reasons:

1. The Judge accepts the notion that Ocwen is a controlled entity of Wells Fargo.

2. The Judge rejects the idea that a party other than the owner of the mortgage can rely on the mortgage terms for any reason (except to show that they were servicing and processing in compliance with the terms of the note and potentially the mortgage). Thus the Judge underscores a central point on this blog — that the servicers, aggregators and broker dealers and trusts and trust beneficiaries are all independent entities and the servicers, among others, have inescapable conflicts of interests that results in action contrary to the expectations of both real parties in interest — i.e., the investors as lenders and the homeowners as borrowers.

3. Trial by jury is available as to all damage claims against any party who is not party to the mortgage contract; and for those banks that are using the servicers as a shield, they may be subject to claims that will be heard by a jury as well.

So in the end he says that the jury will render a verdict as to the claims against Ocwen and render an advisory verdict as to the claims against Wells Fargo. This is a potential nightmare for the banks. It is about time. And now it is time to get your claims heard by a jury.

201403241440

 

 

BONY Objections to Discovery Rejected

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

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

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

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

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

tentative ruling 3-17-14

Quite a Stew: Wells Fargo Pressure Cooker for Sales and Fabricated Documents

Wells Fargo Investigated by 4 Agencies for Manual on Fabricating Foreclosure Documents

Wells Fargo is under investigation for a lot of things these days, just as we find in Bank of America and other major “institutions.” The bottom line is that they haven’t been acting very institutional and their culture is one that has led to fraud, identity theft and outright fabrication of accounts and documents.

There can be little doubt about it. Documents that a real bank acting like a bank would have in its possession appear to be completely absent in most if not all loans that are “performing” (i.e., the homeowner is paying, even if the party they are paying isn’t the right and even if the loan has already been paid off). But as soon as the file becomes subject to foreclosure proceedings, documents miraculously appear showing endorsements, allonges, powers of attorney and assignments. According to a report from The Real Deal (New York Real Estate News), these are frequently referred to as “ta-da endorsements” a reference from magic acts where rabbits are pulled from the hat.

Such endorsements and other fabricated documents have been taken at face value by many judges across the country, despite vigorous protests from homeowners who were complaining about everything from “they didn’t have the documents before, so where did they get them?” to luring homeowners into false modifications that were designed to trap homeowners into foreclosure.

After 7 years of my reporting on the fact that the documents do not exist, including a report from Katherine Anne Porter at what was then the University of Iowa that the documents were intentionally destroyed and “lost” it has finally dawned on regulators and law enforcement that something is wrong. They could have done the same thing that I did. I had inquiries from hundreds (back then, now thousands) of homeowners looking for help.

So the first thing I did was I  sent qualified written requests to the parties who were claiming to be the “lenders.” After sending out hundreds of these the conclusion was inescapable. Any loan where the homeowner was continuing to make their payments have no documentation. Any loan where the homeowner was in the process of foreclosure had documentation of appear piece by piece as it seemed to be needed in court. This pattern of fabrication of documents was pandemic by 2007 and 2008. They were making this stuff up as they went along.

It has taken seven years for mainstream media and regulators to ask the next obvious question, to wit: why would the participants in an industry based on trust and highly complex legal instruments created by them fall into patterns of conduct in which nobody trusted them and where the legal instruments were lost, destroyed and then fabricated? In my seminars I phrased the question differently. The question I posed is that if you had a $10 bill in your hand, why would you stick it in a shredder? The promissory note and the other documents from the alleged loan closings were the equivalent of cash, according to all legal and common sense standards. Why would you destroy it?

As I said in 2008 and continue saying in 2014, the only reason you would destroy the $10 bill is that you had told somebody you were holding something other than a $10 bill. Perhaps you told them it was a $100 bill. Now they want to see it. Better to “lose” the original bill then admit that you were lying in the first place. One is simple negligence (losing it) and the other is criminal fraud (lying about it). The banking industry practically invented all of the procedures and legal papers associated with virtually every type of loan. The processing of loans has been the backbone of the banking industry for hundreds of years. Did they forget how to do it?

The answers to these questions are both inconvenient and grotesque. I know from my past experience on Wall Street that bankers did not deserve the trust that everyone seemed to repose in them. But this conduct went far beyond anything I ever saw on Wall Street. The answer is simply that the bankers traded trust for money. They defrauded the investors, most of whom were stable managed funds guarding the pensions of millions of people. Then they defrauded homeowners creating a pressure cooker of sales culture in which banking evolved simply into marketing and sales. Risk analysis and risk control were lost in the chaos.

The very purpose for which banks came into existence was to have a place of safety in which you could deposit your money with the knowledge that it would still be there when you came back. Investors were lured into a scheme in which they thought their money was being used to fund trusts; those trusts issued mortgage bonds that in most cases were never certificated. In most cases the trust received no money, no assets and no income. The fund managers who were the investors  never had a chance.

The money from the investors was instead kept by the broker-dealers who then traded with it like drunken sailors. They pumped up real estate PRICES  far above real estate VALUES, based on any reasonable appraisal standards. The crash would come, and they knew it. So after lying to the investor lenders and lying to the homeowner borrowers they lied to the insurers, guarantors, co-obligors and counterparties to credit default swaps that had evolved from intelligent hedge products to high flying overly complicated contracts that spelled out “heads I win, tails you lose.”

In order to do all of that they needed to claim the loans and the bonds as though they were owned by the broker-dealers when in fact the broker-dealers were merely the investment banks that had taken the money from investors and instead of using it in the way that the investors were told, they created the illusion (by lying) of the scheme that was called securitization when in fact it was basically common fraud, identity theft of both the lenders and borrowers, in a Ponzi scheme. When Marc Dreier was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $400 million but it was the larger scheme of its kind ever recorded.

When Bernard Madoff was convicted of similar behavior the amount was only $60 billion, but the general consensus was that this was the largest fraud in history and would maintain that status for generations. But when the Madoff scandal was revealed it was obvious that members of the banking industry had to be involved; what was not so obvious is that the banking industry itself had already committed a combination of identity theft, fraud and corruption that was probably 300 times the size of the Madoff scandal.

The assumption that these are just loans that were to be enforced just like any other loans is naïve. The lending process described in the paperwork at the closings of these loans was a complete lie. The actual lender did not know the closing had occurred, never received the note and mortgage, nor any other instrument that protected the investor lenders. The borrower did not know the actual lender existed. Closing agent was at best negligent and at worst part of the scheme. Closing agent applied money from the investors to the closing of the “loan” and gave the paperwork that should’ve gone to the investors to third parties who didn’t have a dime invested in the deal. Later the investment banks would claim that they were suffering losses, but it was a lie, this time to the taxpayers and the government.

The reason the investment banks need to fabricate documentation is simply because their scheme required multiple sales of the same loan to multiple parties. They had to wait until they couldn’t wait any longer in order to pick a plaintiff to file a foreclosure lawsuit or pick a beneficiary who would appear out of nowhere to start the nonjudicial sale of property in which they were a complete stranger to the transaction.

The reason that homeowners should win in any reasonable challenge to a foreclosure action is that neither the forecloser nor the balance has been correctly stated. In many cases the balance “owed” by the borrower is negative! Yes that means that money is owed back to the borrower even know they stopped making payments. This is so counter intuitive that it is virtually impossible for most people to wrap their brains around this concept and that is exactly what Wall Street banks have been counting on and using against us for years.

LA Times Report on Wells Fargo Sales Culture

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