Fatal Flaws in the Origination of Loans and Assignments

The secured party, the identified creditor, the payee on the note, the mortgagee on the mortgage, the beneficiary under the deed of trust should have been the investor(s) — not the originator, not the aggregator, not the servicer, not any REMIC Trust, not any Trustee of a REMIC Trust, and not any Trustee substituted by a false beneficiary on a deed of Trust, not the master servicer and not even the broker dealer. And certainly not whoever is pretending to be a legal party in interest who, without injury to themselves or anyone they represent, could or should force the forfeiture of property in which they have no interest — all to the detriment of the investor-lenders and the borrowers.
There are two fatal flaws in the origination of the loan and in the origination of the assignment of the loan.

As I see it …

The REAL Transaction is between the investors, as an unnamed group, and the borrower(s). This is taken from the single transaction rule and step transaction doctrine that is used extensively in Tax Law. Since the REMIC trust is a tax creature, it seems all the more appropriate to use existing federal tax law decisions to decide the substance of these transactions.

If the money from the investors was actually channeled through the REMIC trust, through a bank account over which the Trustee for the REMIC trust had control, and if the Trustee had issued payment for the loan, and if that happened within the cutoff period, then if the loan was assigned during the cutoff period, and if the delivery of the documents called for in the PSA occurred within the cutoff period, then the transaction would be real and the paperwork would be real EXCEPT THAT

Where the originator of the loan was neither legally the lender nor legally a representative of the source of funds for the transaction, then by simple rules of contract, the originator was incapable of executing any transfer documents for the note or mortgage (deed of trust in nonjudicial states).

If the originator of the loan was not the lender, not the creditor, not a party who could legally execute a satisfaction of the mortgage and a cancellation of the note then who was?

Our answer is nobody, which I know is “counter-intuitive” — a euphemism for crazy conspiracy theorist. But here is why I know that the REMIC trust was never involved in the transaction and that the originator was never the source of funds except in those cases where securitization was never involved (less than 2% of all loans made, whether still existing or “satisfied” or “foreclosed”).

The broker dealer never intended for the REMIC trust to actually own the mortgage loans and caused the REMIC trust to issue mortgage bonds containing an indenture for repayment and ownership of the underlying loans. But there were never any underlying loans (except for some trusts created in the 1990’s). The prospectus said plainly that the excel spreadsheet attached to the prospectus contained loan information that would be replaced by the real loans once they were acquired. This is a practice on Wall Street called selling forward. In all other marketplaces, it is called fraud. But like short-selling, it is permissible on Wall Street.

The broker dealer never intended the investors to actually own the bonds either. Those were issued in street name nominee, non objecting status/ The broker dealer could report to the investor that the investor was the actual or equitable owner of the bonds in an end of month statement when in fact the promises in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement as to insurance, credit default swaps, overcollateralization (a violation of the terms of the promissory note executed by residential borrowers), cross collateralization (also a violation of the borrower’s note), guarantees, servicer advances and trust or trustee advances would all be payable, at the discretion of the broker dealer, to the broker dealer and perhaps never reported or paid to the “trust beneficiaries” who were in fact merely defrauded investors. The only reason the servicer advances were paid to the investors was to lull them into a false sense of security and to encourage them to buy still more of these empty (less than junk) bonds.

By re-creating the notes signed by residential borrowers as various different instruments, and there being no limit on the number of times it could be insured or subject to receiving the proceeds of credit default swaps, (and with the broker dealer being the Master Servicer with SOLE discretion as to whether to declare a credit event that was binding on the insurer, counter-party etc), the broker dealers were able to sell the loans multiple times and sell the bonds multiple times. The leverage at Bear Stearns stacked up to 42 times the actual transaction — for which the return was infinite because the Bear used investor money to do the deal.

Hence we know from direct evidence in the public domain that this was the plan for the “claim” of securitization — which is to say that there never was any securitization of any of the loans. The REMIC Trust was ignored, thus the PSA, servicer rights, etc. were all nonbinding, making all of them volunteers earning considerable money, undisclosed to the investors who would have been furious to see how their money was being used and the borrowers who didn’t see the train wreck coming even from 24 inches from the closing documents.

Before the first loan application was received (and obviously before the first “closing” occurred) the money had been taken from investors for the expressed purpose of funding loans through the REMIC Trust. The originator in all cases was subject to an assignment and assumption agreement which made the loan the property and liability of the counter-party to the A&A BEFORE the money was given to the borrower or paid out on behalf of the borrower. Without the investor, there would have been no loan. without the borrower, there would have been no investment (but there would still be an investor left holding the bag having advanced money for mortgage bonds issued by a REMIC trust that had no assets, and no income to pay the bonds off).

The closing agent never “noticed” that the funds did not come from the actual originator. Since the amount was right, the money went into the closing agent’s escrow account and was then applied by the escrow agent to fund the loan to the borrower. But the rules were that the originator was not allowed to touch or handle or process the money or any overpayment.

Wire transfer instructions specified that any overage was to be returned to the sender who was neither the originator nor any party in privity with the originator. This was intended to prevent moral hazard (theft, of the same type the banks themselves were committing) and to create a layer of bankruptcy remote, liability remote originators whose sins could only be visited upon the aggregators, and CDO conduits constructed by CDO managers in the broker dealers IF the proponent of a claim could pierce a dozen fire walls of corporate veils.

NOW to answer your question, if the REMIC trust was ignored, and was a sham used to steal money from pension funds, but the money of the pension fund landed on the “closing table,” then who should have been named on the note and mortgage (deed of trust beneficiary in non-judicial states)? Obviously the investor(s) should have been protected with a note and mortgage made out in their name or in the name of their entity. It wasn’t.

And the originator was intentionally isolated from privity with the source of funds. That means to me, and I assume you agree, that the investor(s) should have been on the note as payee, the investor(s) should have been on the mortgage as mortgagees (or beneficiaries under the deed of trust) but INSTEAD a stranger to the transaction with no money in the deal allowed their name to be rented as though they were the actual lender.

In turn it was this third party stranger nominee straw-man who supposedly executed assignments, endorsements, and other instruments of power or transfer (sometimes long after they went out of business) on a note and mortgage over which they had no right to control and in which they had no interest and for which they could suffer no loss.

Thus the paperwork that should have been used was never created, executed or delivered. The paperwork that that was created referred to a transaction between the named parties that never occurred. No state allows equitable mortgages, nor should they. But even if that theory was somehow employed here, it would be in favor of the individual investors who actually suffered the loss rather than the foreclosing entity who bears no risk of loss on the loan given to the borrower at closing. They might have other claims against numerous parties including the borrower, but those claims are unliquidated and unsecured.

The secured party, the identified creditor, the payee on the note, the mortgagee on the mortgage, the beneficiary under the deed of trust should have been the investor(s) — not the originator, not the aggregator, not the servicer, not any REMIC Trust, not any Trustee of a REMIC Trust, and not any Trustee substituted by a false beneficiary on a deed of Trust, not the master servicer and not even the broker dealer. And certainly not whoever is pretending to be a legal party in interest who, without injury to themselves or anyone they represent, could or should force the forfeiture of property in which they have no interest — all to the detriment of the investor-lenders and the borrowers.

Why any court would allow the conduits and bookkeepers to take over the show to the obvious detriment and damage to the real parties in interest is a question that only legal historians will be able to answer.

Wells Fargo Manual Serves as Basis for Deeper Discovery

Every lawyer defending Foreclosures has heard the same thing from the bench just before a ruling in favor of the pretender lender — the homeowner did not meet its burden of proof and therefore judgment is entered in favor of the “bank.” The fact that the pretender lender is a bank makes the judge more comfortable with his assumption that the loan is real, the default is real, the financial injury to the pretender lender is presumed, and that the family should be kicked out of their home me because they stopped paying on “the loan.”

More and more Judges are now questioning the assumption of viability of the forecloser’s position and are now entertaining the issue of whether the loan exists as an enforceable contract act and whether it has been already paid off or sold to third parties leaving the currently foreclosing party with a patently false claim.

Those of us who have been analyzing these “securitized” mortgages recognize the situation for what it is — a magic trick in a smoke and mirrors environment using the holographic image of an empty paper bag. The reasons Wells Fargo fought the introduction of its manual into Federal Court is simple — it is an open door in discovery that will most likely lead to definite proof that the money trail does not support the paper trail. That means the actual transactions were different than the events shown on the fabricated assignments, endorsements, allonges and other instruments of transfer.

But it also opens the door to the initial transaction in which “the loan” was created. It turns out that in most cases there were two transactions at the “origination” of each loan. One of those “transactions” is what we are all looking at — an apparently closed loop of offer, acceptance and consideration with most of the required disclosures under TILA.

So, as we shall see, there was a fake loan and a real loan. The fake one was fully and overly documented, whereas the real one is sparsely documented consisting of wire transfer receipt, wire transfer instructions and perhaps some correspondence. Neither was ever delivered to the fake lender or the real lender which is part of the problem that the Wells Fargo manual was intended to address. Discovery should proceed with the other banks where you find similar manuals.

This is the one everybody has their eye on, while the real transaction takes place right under the eye of the borrower who doesn’t catch the magic trick. So the fake transaction is the subject of a note where the lender is identified as such. Then the “lender” and perhaps some other strawman like MERS is also identified. MERS doesn’t make any claims to ownership of the loan (in fact it disclaims any such ownership on its website). The question is whether the “originator” was also a strawman, even if it was a commercial bank whose business included making loans.

Back to basics. The loan closing is described by most courts as a quasi contract because there is no written loan contract prior to the “closing.” But it must be interpreted under Federal and State lending and contract laws because there is no other viable classification for an alleged loan transaction.

The basics of a loan contract, like any other contract, are offer, acceptance and consideration. Federal and state law are also inserted into the inferred loan contract by operation of law. So the basic contractual question is whether there was an offer, whether there was acceptance and whether there was consideration. If any of those things are absent, there is no contract— or to be more specific there is no enforceable contract.

And that applies to mortgages more than anything because it is universally accepted that there is no such thing as an “equitable mortgage.” The short reason is that title and regular commerce would be forever undermined — no buyer would buy, except at a high discount, anything where it might turn out he wasn’t getting the title she or he expected.

So the loan contract must be real, and it must be in writing because the statute of frauds and other state laws require that any interest in land must be conveyed by a written instrument — and recorded in the Public Records (but the recording requirements are frequently a rabbit hole down which homeowners go at their peril).

This is where the magic trick begins and where Wells Fargo and the other major banks are holding their collective breath. The offer is communicated through a mortgage broker or”originator” and consists of the offer of the originator to loan a certain sum of money, in exchange for the promise by the borrower to repay it under certain terms.

It is inferred that the originator is making the offer on its own behalf but this is not the case. The truth is that investors have already advanced the money that will be used in the loan. So the offer is coming not from a “lender” but rather from a nominee or agent. The transaction at best is identified under RegZ and TILA as a table funded loan which is not only illegal, it is by definition “predatory.”

What is an”offer” to loan somebody else’s money? The answer is nothing unless the other party has consented to that loan or has executed a document that gives the “originator” a written authorization that is recordable and recorded. Where do we find such authorization? Theoretically one might refer to the Pooling and Servicing Agreement — but the problem is that any violation of the PSA results in a void transaction by operation of New York law, which is the governing law of most PSA’s.

Were the investors or the Trustee of the REMIC trust advised of the terms of the loan transaction proposed by the originator. No, and there is no way the originator can even fabricate that without disclosing the names of the investors, the trustee, and specific person at the “trustee” etc. So the question becomes whether the investors or trust beneficiaries conveyed written authority to enter into a transaction in which a loan was originated or acquired. In virtually all cases the answer is no.

One of the simpler reasons is that the investors money was never used to fund the trust, so the investors lost their tax benefit from using a REMIC trust in direct violation of their contract or quasi contract with the broker dealer who “sold mortgage bonds” allegedly issued by the empty, unfunded trust.

Another more complicated reason is that the loans probably do not and could never qualify as a minimum risk investment as the law requires for management of “Stable funds.” Those are fund units managed under strict restrictions because they hold pension money and other types of liabilities where capital preservation is far more important than growth or even income.

And the third aspect is the presence in virtually all cases of an Assignment and Assumption Agreement (see Neil Garfield on YouTube) BEFORE THE FIRST BOND IS SOLD AND BEFORE THE FIRST APPLICATION FOR LOAN IS RECEIVED.

Analysis of the loan transaction will show that for the fly-by-night originators who have long since vanished, they had no right or ability to even touch the money at closing, which was coming in reform a third party source with whom they had no relationship — which is why the Wall Street lawyers consider them both bankruptcy remote and liability remote (I.e., anything wrong at closing won’t be ascribed to either the broker dealer, or the investors (or their empty unfunded trust). Countrywide is a larger example of this.

All the sub entities of Countrywide and Lehman (Aurora, BNC etc.) are also examples despite their appearance as “institutions” they were merely sham entities operating as strawmen — nominees without authority to do anything and who never touched the closing money except for receipt of fees which in part were paid as set forth in the borrower’s closing documents, and in part paid without disclosure (another TILA violation) through a labyrinth of entities.

Thus the only reasonable conclusion is that there never was a complete offer with all material terms disclosed. No offer=no contract=no enforcement=no foreclosure is possible, although it is possible for a civil judgment to be obtained against the borrower if a real party in interest could allege and prove financial injury. It also means that the documents signed by the borrower neither disclosed the real terms or real parties, which means they were procured through false representations — the very same allegation the investors are making against the broker dealers (investment banks).

In the case of actual banks, like Wells Fargo, it is more counterintuitive than the fly by night “originators.” But discovery, deep inside the operations of the bank will show that the underwriting standards for portfolio loans in which the bank had a risk of loss were different than the underwriting standards for “securitized” loans. In fact they were run and processed on entirely different platforms. The repurchase agreement being discussed in the literature on structured finance actually results from the fictitious sale of the loan rather than the underwriting at origination.

When the borrower signed the closing document he or she was executing an acceptance of a deal that was only part of the complete offer, which contained numerous restrictions that would have insured to the benefit of both the borrower and the lender, which turns out to be the group of investors who gave their money to a broker dealer (investment bank). If you want to split hairs, it is possible that the “closing documents” were an offer from the borrower that was never accepted by anyone who could perform under the terms of the quasi contract.

So we clearly have a problem with the first two components of an enforceable contract — offer and acceptance.

The final component is consideration which is to say that someone actually parted with money to fund the loan. And low and behold this is the first time our boots fall on solid ground — albeit nowhere near the loan described in the loan documentation. There was indeed money sent to the closing agent. Who sent it? Not the originator, not the nominees, not the trust because it was never funded, and not the investors because they had already funded their “purchase” of the “mortgage bonds” by delivering money to the broker dealer. We can’t say nobody sent it, because that is plainly untrue. Where did the money come from? Did the closing agent err in applying money from an unknown party to the closing of the loan?

It came from a controlled account (superfund) spread out over multiple entities that were NOT identified by a particular REMIC Trust. There was a reason for that, but that is for another article. Whether it was American Broker’s Conduit, a fictitious name sometimes registered, sometimes not, or Wells Fargo itself, the name of the entity was being “rented” for purposes of closing just as it is being rented for purposes of foreclosure.

Therefore the consideration did not come from any party at closing and the inevitable conclusion is that no enforceable contract was created at closing. This does not mean the borrower doesn’t owe the money. It just means that nobody should be able to foreclose on a void mortgage and it is doubtful that anyone could obtain judgment on a promissory note with some many defects. But there are other actions, such as unjust enrichment, which have been discussed in recent cases. It is foreclosure that is legally impossible under the true scenario as I see it and as others see it now. My position has not changed in 7 years. The only thing that has changed is the way I say it.

So the issue of the Wells Fargo and its fabrication manual is that discovery will lead to deeper and deeper secrets that will undermine not only the entire foreclosure infrastructure, but also the financial statements that support ever growing stock prices for the major banks.

The Step Transaction and Single Transaction Doctrine

Jim Macklin and Dan Edstrom did a great job of packing a great deal of information into 28 minutes of talk time on the Neil Garfield Show last night. I am taking a couple of weeks off the show to do some common follow-up procedures to my heart surgery two years ago. Jim Macklin stepped in and did a great job of getting information into the hands of lawyers and other listeners in what turned out to be a mini-seminar on how to apply Federal tax law to the issue of ownership of the the loan. It should be heard more than once to get all the nuances they presented.

Their point was that all the binding commitments were in place before the mortgage bonds were sold and before any loans were even considered for approval. The bottom line is that the customary practice in the finance industry was to sell forward — i.e., sell the bonds based upon loans that either did not exist or had not yet been acquired by the REMIC trusts. THEN they went out originating loans and acquiring loans.

As we have previously discussed here and elsewhere, the trusts and the trustee never even had a bank account through which the “pass through” assets and income would be funneled to investors. But that only adds fuel to the fire that Edstrom and Macklin were talking about. From a federal tax law perspective, which should pre-empt any state interpretation, the loans belonged to the investors from the start — not the trusts.

The trusts could only be used as a representative entity in litigation if they were funded with the investors’ money. Our research strongly supports the conclusion that no such funding took place. In fact, our research indicates the funding of the trust with the investors money was impossible because no trust accounts were ever created.

Thus you have the “straight line” that goes from the investors to the borrower. This goes directly to the issue of standing. Because once it is established that the consideration for the only real single transaction flowed from the investors to the borrower, no transaction between intermediaries were true.

They were false transactions supported by fabricated documents with no payment of consideration. Article 9 of the UCC completely supports this interpretation along with decisions interpreting federal tax law as to the real parties in interest. As a result the issue of standing is resolved — only the investors have standing to collect on the loans for which borrowers concede they received the money or the benefit.

The assignments shown in court are between intermediary parties who had no actual transaction with no actual payment or consideration because the payment or consideration had already passed through binding commitments set up by the so-called securitization scheme. By not funding the trusts, the broker dealers were free to use the money as they wished and they did.

They broke every rule in the underwriting book because they were traveling under a different set of rules than the investors or the borrowers thought. Because they had promised to make the payments due under the trust document — the pooling and servicing agreement — and because their binding commitments to make the payments for principal, interest, taxes and insurance already existed prior to the sale the mortgage bonds and prior to the loan to the borrower (see servicer advances, trust advances etc.).

As a result, the investors who should have been on the notes and mortgages were deprived of the documentation they were promised in the PSA. In plain language the mortgage documents and the bond documentation were pure fabrications without any underlying transaction between the parties to those transactions. No transaction between the investor and the trust. And no transaction between the “lender” on the note and mortgage and the borrower.

Hence the allegation of investors in their claims against the broker dealers that the note and mortgage is unenforceable to the detriment of the investors, who are left with common law claims for recovery of damages without any security instrument to protect them. hence the claim that borrowers are being sued by intermediaries who were strangers to the ACTUAL transaction with REAL consideration and terms to which both lender and borrower were bound. The terms agreed by the lenders were vastly different than the terms disclosed to borrowers. There was no meeting of the minds.

GUEST HOST TONITE JAMES MACKLIN

Click in tonite— tune in at The Neil Garfield Show

Or call in at (347) 850-1260, 6pm Thursdays

Guest Host Tonight is Jim Macklin, Managing Director, Secure Document Research located in Nevada. He has been a guest on the show before. A dynamic speaker and presenter, he has assisted me in presenting seminars for CLE credit for lawyers. His guest is Dan Edstrom, senior forensic analyst for the Livinglies Team.

His Topic today will be how tax law determines ownership interests in REMIC assets. For you newcomers, REMIC means Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduit — it is the trust (usually under New York Law) that supposedly was funded by investors through the broker-dealer that sold the alleged mortgage bonds to pension funds and other stable managed funds.

For those of you who have pondered how a stable managed fund got involved despite restrictions as to what risks are acceptable in investment strategies the answer is simple — they had a guarantee from the servicer and/or the trust and/or the trustee that they would receive the money each month including principal, interest, taxes and insurance REGARDLESS OF WHETHER THE BORROWER PAID. Dan Edstrom and Jim Macklin were the first ones to bring this to my attention. It affects the alleged existence of a default when the creditor is getting paid, the terms of the alleged loan contract, and the alleged balance claimed as owed under the mortgage loan.

Servicer Advances, Modification of Loans and Sundry Matters

I appear to have sparked some controversy over my comments that were directed at modifications and servicer advances — subjects that are not necessarily related. But they could be related — as where the homeowner seeks a modification on which there have been servicer advances.

So to answer some questions about Modifications, I will first state that no article on any subject on this blog is intended to be a complete exposition of an issue — if it was, each post would equivalent to a treatise several hundred pages long. That is why we say don’t use any one article as the authority for your situation and to get advice from competent licensed professionals who can service your needs based upon your information.

That said, there have been numerous comments about modifications, some of which have correct information in them. Like anything else found here, you should check with knowledgeable licensed professionals before you act on anything — especially the comments posted by people who have their own axe to grind. One thing is true — modification has a lot of moving parts and it isn’t as simple as anyone would like it to be. There are also tax issues that effect the calculations which I have not yet explored on these pages.

Modification is a sub-specialty of law in which I do not claim any rights. But that is the point. Most of the people who are giving opinions on modification are not lawyers, nor accountants, nor trained, licensed individuals in any area of any discipline. They have some experience, and that experience has molded their perceptions but they don’t know enough to conceive of solutions outside the box in which they operate. And some of them are on the payroll of banks who are waging a PR campaign in which they are spending billions, in one form or another, to make it look like the loans are real and the modification of them is the right way to go.

Modification IS a real option as long as you get something real. Qualifying for a modification takes time, expertise and the ability to present a credible threat in litigation, which is why I favor lawyers over anyone else doing modifications. The cost-benefit analysis should be done by someone who does this all day long and who is constantly researching options.

I write about bits and pieces. Attorneys who have well defined departments that handle modifications, short-sales, hardest hit programs, and other programs that offer assistance are miles ahead of me and any of the comments I have seen on my writing about modification.

As to servicer advances there is a small debate going on but I stick with my analysis. If the creditor has indeed received payment on the account of the loan that is being collected or foreclosed then there is either no default or the notice of default, notice of acceleration and/or the lawsuit itself and the evidence submitted are wrong as to amount.

The fact that there COULD be a claim against the borrower for unjust enrichment is irrelevant. First, even if the claim exists, it is not secured by the mortgage nor described by the note. Second, it is not likely that those claims will ever be brought.

And lastly — and I do mean lastly — thank you for your various invitations for a debate. My answer is no, I will save that for court or a seminar in which we cover the four corners of the issues. I will not “debate” issues of law with non-lawyers, or anyone else that lacks credentials to challenge anything I have said. And if you have reading this blog for years you can see how I have evolved in my own thinking and analysis causing me to reverse some prior strategies that I had suggested.

But the basic information about securitization presented here is, to the best of my knowledge and belief (see about Neil Garfield), still completely correct and facts and decisions on the ground have proven me right in each case. At first everyone scoffs, then  they end up arguing for it. They scoff because some of these things are counter-intuitive — i.e., they seem impossible. That doesn’t make them any less true. I was right about everything, factually in 2007, legally in 2008 and I believe I remain so. It is taking the judicial system a long time to catch up because of the intense complexity and opacity of the “securitization” game.

Modifications: Interest reduction, Principal reduction, Payment reduction, and Term increase

In the financial world we don’t measure just the amount of principal. For example if I increased your mortgage principal by $100,000 and gave you 100 years to pay without interest it would be nearly equivalent to zero principal too (especially factoring in inflation). A reduction in the interest rate has an effect on the overall amount of money due from the borrower if (and this is an important if) the borrower is given 40 years to pay AND they intend to live in the house for that period of time. To the borrower the reduction in interest rate and the extension of the period in which it is due lowers the monthly payment which is all that he or she normally cares about.

Nonetheless you are generally correct. And THAT is because the average time anyone lives in a house is 5-7 years, during which an interest reduction would not equate to much of a principal reduction even with inflation factored in. Unsophisticated borrowers get caught in exactly that trap when they do a modification where the monthly payments decline. But when they want to refinance or sell the home they find themselves in a new bind — having to come to the table with cash to sell their home because the mortgage is upside down.

So the question that must be answered is what are the intentions of the homeowner. The only heuristic guide (rule of thumb) that seems to hold true is that if the house has been in the family for generations, it is indeed likely that they will continue to own the property. In that event calculations of interest and inflation, present value etc. make a big difference. But for most people, the only thing that cures their position of being upside down (ignoring the fact that they probably don’t owe the full amount demanded anyway) is by a direct principal reduction.

THAT is the reason why I push so hard on getting credit for receipt of insurance and other loss sharing arrangements, including FDIC, servicer advances etc. Get credit for those and you have a principal CORRECTION (i.e., you get to the truth) instead of a principal REDUCTION, which presumes the old balance was actually due. It isn’t due and it is probable that there is nothing due on the debt, in addition to the fact that it is not secured by the property because the mortgage and note do NOT describe any actual transaction that took place between the parties to the note and the mortgage.

Foreclosures on Nonexistent Mortgages

I have frequently commented that one of the first things I learned on Wall Street was the maxim that the more complicated the “product” the more the buyer is forced to rely on the seller for information. Michael Lewis, in his new book, focuses on high frequency trading — a term that is not understood by most people, even if they work on Wall Street. The way it works is that the computers are able to sort out buy or sell orders, aggregate them and very accurately predict an uptick or down-tick in a stock or bond.

Then the same investment bank that is taking your order to buy or sell submits its own order ahead of yours. They are virtually guaranteed a profit, at your expense, although the impact on individual investors is small. Aggregating those profits amounts to a private tax on large and small investors amounting to billions of dollars, according to Lewis and I agree.

As Lewis points out, the trader knows nothing about what happens after they place an order. And it is the complexity of technology and practices that makes Wall Street behavior so opaque — clouded in a veil of secrecy that is virtually impenetrable to even the regulators. That opacity first showed up decades ago as Wall Street started promoting increasing complex investments. Eventually they evolved to collateralized debt obligations (CDO’s) and those evolved into what became known as the mortgage crisis.

in the case of mortgage CDO’s, once again the investors knew nothing about what happened after they placed their order and paid for it. Once again, the Wall Street firms were one step ahead of them, claiming ownership of (1) the money that investors paid, (2) the mortgage bonds the investors thought they were buying and (3) the loans the investors thought were being financed through REMIC trusts that issued the mortgage bonds.

Like high frequency trading, the investor receives a report that is devoid of any of the details of what the investment bank actually did with their money, when they bought or originated a mortgage, through what entity,  for how much and what terms. The blending of millions of mortgages enabled the investment banks to create reports that looked good but completely hid the vulnerability of the investors, who were continuing to buy mortgage bonds based upon those reports.

The truth is that in most cases the investment banks took the investors money and didn’t follow any of the rules set forth in the CDO documents — but used those documents when it suited them to make even more money, creating the illusion that loans had been securitized when in fact the securitization vehicle (REMIC Trust) had been completely ignored.

There were several scenarios under which property and homeowners were made vulnerable to foreclosure even if they had no mortgage on their property. A recent story about an elderly couple coming “home” to find their door padlocked, possessions removed and then the devastating news that their home had been sold at foreclosure auction is an example of the extreme risk of this system to ALL homeowners, whether they have or had a mortgage or not. This particular couple had paid off their mortgage 15 years ago. The bank who foreclosed on the nonexistent mortgage and the recovery company that invaded their home said it was a mistake. Their will be a confidential settlement where once again the veil of secrecy will be raised.

That type of “mistake” was a once in a million possibility before Wall Street directly entered the mortgage loan business. So why have we read so many stories about foreclosures where there was no mortgage, or was no default, or where the mortgage loan was with someone other than the party who foreclosed?

The answer lies in how these properties enter the system. When a bank sells its portfolio of loans into the system of aggregation of loans, they might accidentally or intentionally include loans for which they had already received full payment. Maybe they issued a satisfaction maybe they didn’t. It might also include loans where life insurance or PMI paid off the loan.

Or, as is frequently the case, the “loan” was sold after the homeowner was merely investigating the possibility of a mortgage or reverse mortgage. As soon as they made application, since approval was certain, the “originator” entered the data into a platform maintained by the aggregator, like Countrywide, where it was included in some “securitization package.

If the loan closed then it was frequently sold again with the new dates and data, so it would like like a different loan. Then the investment banks, posing as the lenders, obtained insurance, TARP, guarantee proceeds and other payments from “co-obligors” on each version of the loan that was sold, thus essentially creating the equivalent of new sales on loans that were guaranteed to be foreclosed either because there was no mortgage or because the terms were impossible for the borrower to satisfy.

The LPS roulette wheel in Jacksonville is the hub where it is decided WHO will be the foreclosing party and for HOW MUCH they will claim is owed, without any allowance for the multiple sales, proceeds of insurance, FDIC loss sharing, actual ownership of the loans or anything else. Despite numerous studies by those in charge of property records and academic studies, the beat goes on, foreclosing by entities who are “strangers to the transaction” (San Francisco study), on documents that were intentionally destroyed (Catherine Ann Porter study at University of Iowa), against homeowners who had no idea what was going on, using the money of investors who had no idea what was going on, and all based upon a triple tiered documentary system where the contractual meeting of the minds could never occur.

The first tier was the Prospectus and Pooling and Servicing Agreement that was used to obtain money from investors under false pretenses.

The second tier consisted of a whole subset of agreements, contracts, insurance, guarantees all payable to the investment banks instead of the investors.

And the third tier was the “closing documents” in which the borrower, contrary to Federal (TILA), state and common law was as clueless as the investors as to what was really happening, the compensation to intermediaries and the claims of ownership that would later be revealed despite the borrower’s receipt of “disclosure” of the identity of his lender and the terms of compensation by all people associated with the origination of the loan.

The beauty of this plan for Wall Street is that nobody from any of the tiers could make direct claims to the benefits of any of the contracts. It has also enabled then to foreclose more than once on the same home in the name of different creditors, making double claims for guarantee from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, FDIC loss sharing, insurance and credit default swaps.

The ugly side of the plan is still veiled, for the most part in secrecy. even when the homeowner gets close in court, there is a confidential settlement, sometimes for millions of dollars to keep the lawyer and the homeowner from disclosing the terms or the reasons why millions of dollars was paid to a homeowner to keep his mouth shut on a loan that was only $200,000 at origination.

This is exactly why I tell people that most of the time their case will be settled either in discovery where a Judge agrees you are entitled to peak behind the curtain, or at trial where it becomes apparent that the witness who is “familiar” with the corporate records really knows nothing and ahs nothing about the the real history of the loan transaction.

%d bloggers like this: