How to Deal with the “Free House” Bias

If you are dealing with a bias held by most judges the only effective way of dealing with it is to meet the challenge head-on. If you dance around it it looks like you are trying to “get off on a technicality.”

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THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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A client asked me this morning about he “free house” bias and whether that will interfere with the decisions and ruling of the court. The answer is “of course it does.” And I again raise the issue that nobody wants to talk about — whether it is right or proper to voir dire the judge not just for bias, but for prejudgment decision before the case started. Here is the response I sent:

The answer to your “free house” question is this: You are correct in identifying that problem. We always start with presumption that the presiding judge will carry that bias with him/her into the courtroom.
However, as I have repeatedly found, once you pierce the foreclosure case, the credibility of the would-be foreclosing party declines to the point where the biased judge will ordinarily rule in favor of the homeowner — faced with inescapable legal defects in the position and assertions made by parties without standing.
But there are exceptions — judges who, in addition to having bias, have already ruled in their minds. For them the proceedings are a sham requirement and a test to see if the judge can APPEAR fair and impartial.
Countering the “free house” mindset first requires a demonstration that the homeowner is well aware that he can neither seek nor get a free house. That requires a presentation that concedes the fact that even if the note and mortgage were completely void, the debt remains and a judgment on that debt will result in a  judgment lien that could be foreclosed by the owner of that debt. That “concession” take the angst out of the “free house” conundrum for the judge and will often be an effective predicate to establishing the primary defense narrative.
So the question is not whether the homeowner will get a free house; it is whether this party seeking to foreclose title and take possession of this home has any right to do so. To say otherwise would be an invitation for anyone to fabricate documentation and foreclose, especially in cases where the homeowner concedes, relying upon false documentation of a false party. That scenario I have seen multiple times where the foreclosure is complete, the homeowner has moved out and basically forgotten about the house. The homeowner is later served with process or given notice that the house was foreclosed AGAIN by a different party.

Challenging the “Free House” Myth

Unless you are banker stealing homes through the fraudulent abuse of the foreclosure process there is no free house.

It is not rationale nor legal for anyone to tell a homeowner that because he or she cannot identify the source of funds for their “loan” the creditor MUST be in the chain of the party making the claim. It isn’t the fault of the homeowner that the paperwork was used to cover up fraud or negligence.

But every time a homeowner wins they do not necessarily get a free house nor exoneration from the debt that is owed to SOMEBODY even if they don’t know who it is.

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https://www.vcita.com/v/lendinglies to schedule CONSULT, leave message or make payments.
 
THIS ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.
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The bar remains high and we all know it. The court is not going to hand down a decision for the “borrower” unless there is something plainly wrong about it. In order to be plainly wrong, we need some narrative that puts the court back on its heels and to directly challenge the notions that a victory for Flaherty means that he gets a free house. The banks have stepped up their “free house” mythology in light of the Supreme Court decision in Florida.

The challenge here is to to present the case in a manner that makes the “free house” myth irrelevant and to do it in a compelling presentation. While the easiest way of doing that would be to allege simply that this is a fraudulent scheme, we can’t prove that without adequate responses to discovery. But the Courts are allowing the banks to skate through without responding to discovery even when the allegations clearly make the scheme an issue.

This is why the banks file motions to strike OR simply argue that the homeowner’s pleadings don’t state a case or defense.

So we are left with the consequences of the scheme. But that leaves fertile ground for many approaches. The focus should be on procedural aspects and away from “winning” the case on motions. The object is to win the pending motion on the grounds that due process demands it. The trick here is to find a way to ask the judge “What if all this is an illusion?” without asking it in those words. That is an uphill climb.

We cannot ignore the fact that the bench is biased in favor of the banks. Their presumption that the homeowner received a loan and should be required to pay it back or lose his home permeates everything. The greater hurdle is that their presumption comes from an era when those things were axiomatically true before Wall Street started with this scheme. And now everything is being subjected to claims of “securitization.” Even cell phone payments. “Securitization” has been institutionalized based upon a false foundation, but in theory there is nothing wrong with it.

The money trail remains the primary path toward victory for the homeowner. But it is true that there are certain aspects of the money trail that are none of your business when defending the homeowner. The fact that the banks defrauded investors and stole their money is compelling proof, once established, that the trusts were never funded and thus never purchased the loans. It also suggests but does not prove where the money came from for the “loan closing.” It came from a dark pool formed by the banks and consisting of the stolen money.

Knowing that, rather than proving that, is key to establishing the narrative. And now there are instances in which the “new” REMIC Trust actually does pay for the paper even though the Seller never owned the debt and the paper was based upon a fictitious transaction in which the Payee on the note never loaned any money — leading to the conclusion that the debt was never merged into the note; but this also leads to the conclusion that the risk shifts to the maker of the note when the note is purchased for value, in good faith and without knowledge of the borrower’s defenses. The new Purchaser” who really paid consideration (assuming they REALLY paid) could conceivably be a holder in due course. The focus then shifts to showing that there was no good faith and that there was complete knowledge of the borrower’s defenses on the part of the purchaser.

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Knowing that the parties making the claim have no legal basis for doing so and no monetary reason for doing so — because the source of funds were victims of fraud — allows the litigator to focus on the factual and legal consequences. But the art form required here is to do that without making it look like you are allowing the homeowner to slip away from the debt. Getting there means getting past preliminary motions and aggressively pursuing discovery (unless you think that the bank’s case is defective enough such that it would be better to wait until trial to defend).

Yale Law Review: “In Defense of “Free Houses”

MEGAN WACHSPRESS, JESSIE AGATSTEIN & CHRISTIAN MOTT published an article that takes dead aim at the “free house” controversy. In the Yale Law Review they come to the conclusion that (1) the house isn’t free to any homeowner even if they escape the mortgage and (2) the projected social cost of  market values are wrong. But probably the most stinging criticism of the judicial system is that judges are abandoning the rule of law for ad hoc rulings whose only purpose is to avoid a result the judge doesn’t like.

Unfortunately, the article does not fully address the issue of why the banks are failing to prove what is ordinarily a slam dunk case. The authors seem to assume that the debt is legitimate and that it is mainly a paperwork problem. I would add my usual comment: if the banks simply had continued with the standard procedures they would not have had any paperwork problems no matter how many times the loan was sold. The greater evil that is not addressed in case decisions and law review articles is that this was all part of fraudulent scheme and THAT is why the banks had to resort to more fraud (in documentation).

We should remember that banks basically drafted the statutes and are the source of all paperwork on consumer loans, especially mortgage loans. For hundreds of years they knew how to do it, knew how to keep it and rarely misplaced anything. It strains belief to think that suddenly the banks  forgot what took hundreds of years to develop. The more insidious reason is what is feared to be the nuclear option — that the mortgages, notes and loan contracts were all an illusion, even if the money was real.

In the end, for reasons other than those expressed on these pages, the authors come to the same conclusion that I did — the “free house” is going to the banks every time a foreclosure is granted.

Here are some quotes from their article that I think are self-explanatory.

When addressing faulty foreclosures, courts are afraid to bar future attempts to foreclose—that is, afraid of giving borrowers “free houses.” While courts rarely explain the reasoning behind this aversion, it seems to arise from a reflexive belief that such an outcome would be unjust. Courts are therefore quick to sidestep well-established principles of res judicata in favor of ad hoc measures meant to protect banks against the specter of “free houses.” [e.s.]

This Comment argues that this approach is misguided; courts should issue final judgments in favor of homeowners in cases where banks fail to prove the elements required for foreclosure. Furthermore, these judgments should have res judicata effect—thus giving homeowners “free houses.” This approach has several benefits: it is consistent with longstanding res judicata principles in other forms of civil litigation, it provides a necessary market-correcting incentive to promote greater responsibility among foreclosure litigators, and it alleviates the tremendous costs of successive foreclosure proceedings.

In a foreclosure suit, the bank must generally prove the following: (1) the homeowner has signed both the note (the underlying loan) and the mortgage assigning the house as collateral for that note; (2) the bank owns the note and mortgage; (3) the homeowner still owes a debt to the bank; (4) the homeowner is behind on that debt; and (5) the bank has accelerated that remaining debt in accordance with the terms of the note itself. When a bank fails to prove these elements, a judge is legally required to rule in favor of the homeowner.

Recently, courts have been inundated with suits where homeowners question the bank’s ability to prove the second element. Litigation over “proof- of-ownership” issues in foreclosures is a growing nationwide problem; sampling suggests a ten-fold increase between the periods immediately preceding and following the 2007 collapse of the housing market.

To demonstrate ownership without expending more resources than pooling and servicing agreements allotted, bank employees signed hundreds of thousands of affidavits asserting that they had seen and could attest to the contents of original documents demonstrating ownership of the underlying mortgage. Although such affidavits were a legally acceptable means of demonstrating such ownership, a significant number of them were actually fraudulent.

…ethical transgressions have affected hundreds of thousands of foreclosures.

Judge Schack, a trial judge sitting in the New York Supreme Court for Kings County, has repeatedly sanctioned law firms for bringing improper foreclosure suits when he has independently discovered the inadequacy of the plaintiffs’ evidence as to defendants’ indebtedness or plaintiffs’ ownership of the note. See, e.g., Argent Mortg. Co. v. Maitland, 958 N.Y.S.2d 306 (Sup. Ct. 2010); Wells Fargo Bank v. Hunte, 910 N.Y.S.2d 409 (Sup. Ct. 2010); NetBank v. Vaughn, 841 N.Y.S.2d 827 (Sup. Ct. 2007).

By focusing on the immediate consequence of a ruling for homeowners, the courts ignore perverse incentives created by allowing banks to continue to externalize the costs of their mistakes.

…one approach—that taken by the Florida and Maine Supreme Courts—is to bend the rules of res judicata to avoid a windfall for homeowners. This approach creates few benefits and significant economic problems. In this Part, we argue that further subsidizing banks’ poor litigation practices results in deadweight loss by contributing to negative public-health outcomes and by disincentivizing banks from improving their servicing and litigation techniques. We also explain how granting winning homeowners “free houses” will not negatively affect the mortgage market.

…broader social subsidization of irresponsible [bank] behavior.

…prolonged foreclosure proceedings create negative social externalities, depressing surrounding homes’ resale value, reducing local governments’ tax revenues, and increasing criminal activity.44 Foreclosures also appear to have significant effects on community members’ physical and mental health, and correlate with increased rates of depression, anxiety, suicide, cardiovascular disease, and emergency-care treatment.

…although judges have expressed concern about homeowner windfalls, the alternative creates a windfall for banks that cut corners in managing and prosecuting foreclosures. The risk and costs of losing foreclosures should already be internalized in the price of current mortgages. Empirical studies suggest that greater protection for mortgagors historically corresponds to slightly higher mortgage rates among lenders. These studies indicate that lenders adjust the price of mortgages based on what they anticipate the cost, and not just the likelihood, of foreclosures will be.

 

DEBT vs. Note: What is the difference?

 current trial court decisions are getting reversed because the courts are waking up to the reality of the rule of law. What they have been following is an off the books rule of “anything but a free house.”

the Courts may think they are saving the financial system, the economy and our society from disintegration, but in truth they are undermining all three.

A recent Yale Law Review article eviscerates the assumptions of a “free house” for the homeowners and destroys the myth that somehow that policy has saved the nation. Yale-In Defense of Free Houses 2016 03 23

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THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE IS NOT A LEGAL OPINION UPON WHICH YOU CAN RELY IN ANY INDIVIDUAL CASE. HIRE A LAWYER.

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Like many other cases, current trial court decisions are getting reversed because the courts are waking up to the reality of the rule of law. What they have been following is an off the books rule of “anything but a free house.” A recent Yale Law Review Article eviscerates the assumptions of a free house for the homeowners and destroys the myth that somehow that policy has saved the nation.
The Trial Judges are making the assumption that there is an underlying debt and an underlying liability of the homeowner to make a payment to the parties in litigation even if the paperwork was found to be defective. Or worse, they are disregarding the rule of law altogether and ruling for the banks and servicers because of policy reasoning (a province exclusively reserved to the legislative branch of government and excluded from the judicial branch).

The key legal analysis goes back to basic contract law pounded into our heads in the first year of law school, to wit: the note is not the debt, it is evidence of the debt.” So if there is no debt and the homeowner challenges on that basis, the homeowner SHOULD win every time. The mistake made by pro se litigants and lawyers alike is that they cannot conceive of the notion of “there is no debt.” That’s because they don’t complete the sentence, to wit: There is no debt owed to the beneficiary or claimed beneficiary on the deed of trust (non judicial states) or there is no debt owed to the mortgagee or claimed mortgagee named in the mortgage.”

Basic contract law: an enforceable contract must contain three elements and a hidden fourth element. The three key elements without which there can be no enforcement are OFFER, ACCEPTANCE AND CONSIDERATION. The hidden fourth element is that contracts in violation of public policy are void.

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In nearly all cases where there are claims of securitization and most where no such claims are brought forward (but still exist) they are missing consideration (i.e., PAYMENT) from the origination and/or acquisition of the loan. The DEBT was never created in favor of the party receiving documents.
The documents, including the note refer to a transaction in which the originator loaned money to the homeowner. This is nearly always NOT true. And the contract, even if it existed, is part of a larger plot to defraud both the borrowers and the investors in which the originators, brokers, servicers, Master Servicers and Trusts are the fraudsters.
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These cases thus involve contracts to violate both laws and public policy — particularly those in which prior agreement is executed in which the parties to agree to create table funded loans as a pattern and practice — something which REG Z clearly says is PREDATORY PER SE.
Either predatory or predatory per se mean something or they don’t. But if they mean anything they set the bar such that parties who violate this provision cannot claim “clean hands.” And if the court of equity is being asked by the violators for the equitable remedy of foreclosure sale based upon, at best, dubious documentation (without proof of the debt or who owns the debt) then the availability of foreclosure should be barred.

Lawyers must meet this challenge head-on and stop pussy footing around. If the alleged loan was table funded, then there was never any completed loan contract. If the money came from a third party, then that third party has the right to the note and mortgage — if the note and mortgage are executed in favor of that third party or if the “originator” was in privity with the third party through contract. There is no other way.

BUT if the identified third party was just a conduit for a source of funds outside the circle of the originator and the party through whom the funds were sourced, then the homeowner owes the DEBT to someone else. What Wall Street banks did in its simplest form is to relieve the investors of money in such a way that the investors would see very little of it ever returned because the Wall Street banks had reached for and grabbed the holy grail of finance — selling financing for nonexistent entities and keeping the proceeds.

And the same logic then applies. If the FOURTH party was somehow in privity (contract) with the originator then the homeowner owes the debt to that fourth party. BUT unless the note and mortgage are properly delivered and executed in favor of the fourth party, neither the fourth party nor any agent or “servicer” for the fourth party can claim rights under the note and mortgage which should never have been released, delivered or recorded in the first place.

In short, without BOTH the money trial and the paper trail being synchronized there is no loan contract. And that means there is no valid note or mortgage which are then VOID ab initio. Can the real source of funds collect? Yes of course, but they do not own a claim that is secured by a mortgage or deed of trust. And they cannot use the note as direct evidence of the debt. This has always been the law. Ironically, nearly all “borrowers” would gladly execute notes and mortgages with the real investors that would be fully enforceable and would represent workouts that would protect both the investor and the borrower. But in order to do that, the banks and servicers in the false securitization industry must be benched and a new group of entities employed directly by investors must arise.

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As stated in the recent Yale Law Review article, document defects do not occur as a result of any action or fault of the alleged borrower and there is no reason not to apply the rule of law to any situation, much less one in which a party can lose their personal residence.

The theory of anything except a free house for the homeowner is full of holes that are amply challenged in the Yale Law Review article. As the authors point out, the trial judges may think they are saving the financial system, the economy and our society from disintegration, but in truth they are undermining all three.

See Yale-In Defense of Free Houses 2016 03 23

Banks Brace for Pain: Statute of Limitations on TILA Rescission and TILA Claims

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TILA remedies and requirements actually address the “free house” complaint head on: If banks misbehave in material and important ways (as defined by statute and not in the minds of a judge or lawyer) then yes, the homeowner should get a free house. That is what all three branches of the Federal government have said and no re-interpretation of TILA rescission or TILA remedies will be allowed since last week when the Supreme Court unanimously decided that TILA meant what it says. Any Judge or lawyer who thinks otherwise is in fairyland. The fact that a Judge doesn’t “like” the result of a “free house” (as the Judge perceives it) means nothing. The Judge is required to apply the law as decided by the United States Supreme Court.

Practically everyone is asking questions about whether the statute of limitations starts running from the date the documents were signed on the alleged loan or if it could start at a later time. The answer is a grey area, but as pointed out by James Macklin last night on the Neil Garfield show, there is a legal doctrine called equitable tolling that could suspend the start of the running of the statute of limitations for TILA rescission and TILA claims.

“The equitable tolling principles are to be read into every Federal Statute of Limitations unless Congress expressly provides to the contrary in clear and unambiguous language, see: Rotella v. Wood 528, 549, 560-61,120 S. Ct. 1075, 145 L. Ed. 2d 1047(2000). Since TILA does not evidence a contrary Congressional intent, it’s statute of limitations must be read to be subject to equitable tolling, particularly since the Act is to be construed liberally in favor of consumers.”

Basically the doctrine says that the statute starts to run, unless otherwise provided in the statute, when the claimant knew or should have known or most have known of the grounds for, in this case, TILA Rescission or TILA claims. The basis of that is obvious to anyone involved with these fake mortgages and fraudulent foreclosures for 8 years like I have. The very facts that give rise to TILA rescission and other TILA claims, are intentionally withheld by the parties at the fake closing where the borrower signs settlements documents, the note and the mortgage.

The strategy of the banks has been to wait out three years and then pursue foreclosure and when the borrower raises TILA defenses, the answer is that the statute of limitations has run. With the recent unanimous Supreme Court decision that effectively smacked thousands of lawyers and judges in the face for re-interpreting basic law and the specific and express provisions of TILA, this bank strategy should no longer work.

So now if you gave notice of rescission within three years of the date of the fake closing, your mortgage is null and void “by operation of law” and the “lender(s)” are required to give you (a) a satisfaction of mortgage for county records (b) a canceled original note (c) refund all the money you paid at closing for points, fees, costs etc. and (d) refund all the money you ever paid for interest and principal on the loan. Your debt becomes unsecured and there is no requirement for you to offer them any money at all in order to have the TILA rescission (“I hereby rescind my loan”) be effective. If you EVER sent such a notice within the three year period then your mortgage was void by operation of law at that time — unless the “lender(s)” filed a lawsuit (within 20 days of receipt of your notice of rescission) seeking declaratory relief saying your rescission was not based on any mistakes, errors, omissions or misbehavior on their part.

So all those hundreds of thousands of letters sent back to borrowers saying their letter of rescission was not effective were wrong. Dead wrong. And all those foreclosures that happened anyway were wrongful and void. And THAT means that what I said in 2008 is now true — that hundreds of thousands of homeowners who sent notices of rescission still own their homes even though on paper their homes were sold to third parties. The only thing that could interfere with that conclusion would be a state statute that existed at the time of the fraudulent sale  that said that you have 1 year or some other length of time to challenge the title.

So now that we know that nearly all the loans were table funded and therefore “predatory per se” (REG Z) the question becomes when did the three year statute of limitations begin to run.

There are two schools of thought on this. The first one is simple, as one caller on the Neil Garfield Show pointed out last night. If the disclosures were intentionally withheld, then even the three day rescission might still be available because the deal never actually closed and because the disclosures were fraudulent.

But in any event the statute would start to run as soon as the “borrower” found out that there were multiple people involved in his fake closing that were never disclosed — all of which undisclosed parties were involved in serving as conduits or aggregators and all of whom were paid an undisclosed amount of money arising out of the “closing.” So it is possible that even though your loan was the subject of a faked closing in 2005, you might still have a right to rescind and should send the notice of rescission since it forced the burden of proof onto the pretender lenders. This is especially important in nonjudicial states where the borrower must sue to prevent foreclosure and there is confusion over the alignment of parties.

Incidentally to drill in the point that this statute has teeth, the “lender” must pay the borrower all money paid including what was paid to third party vendors. The loss falls on the “lender” for misbehaving. If it didn’t bother the US Government (Congress, President and Supreme Court) when it passed TILA that the borrower would get a “free house” why should it bother anyone else?

MERS Assignments VOID

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see http://www.msfraud.org/law/lounge/mers-auroraslammed.pdf
While there are a number of cases that discuss the role of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS), this tells the story in the shortest amount of time. MERS was only a nominee to track the off-record claims from multiple parties participating in what we call the securitization of loans. It now appears that the securitization in most cases never took place but the banks and their affiliates are foreclosing in the name of REMIC trusts anyway, relying on “presumptions” to “prove” that the Trust actually purchased and took possession of the alleged loan. In every case I know of  where the homeowner was allowed to probe deeply into the issues of whether the Trust actually received the loan, it has either been determined that the Trust didn’t own the loan, or the case was settled before the court could announce that ruling.

Decided in April of last year, this case slams Aurora, who was and remains one of the worst offenders in the category of fraudulent foreclosures. The Court decided that since the basis of the claim was an assignment from MERS who had no interest int he debt, note or mortgage, there were no “successors.” This logic is irrefutable. And as regular readers know from reading this blog I believe the same logic applies to any other party who has no interest in the debt, note or mortgage — like an unfunded “originator” whose name appears on not only the Mortgage, like MERS, but also on the note.

Judges have trouble with that analysis because in their minds they think the homeowner is trying to get a free house. Even if that were true, it doesn’t change the correct application of law. But the opposite is true. The homeowner is trying to stop the foreclosing party from getting a free house and the homeowner is trying  to find his creditor. I actually had a judge yesterday rule that the source of funds, ownership and balance was essentially irrelevant. Discovery on nearly all issues was blocked by his ruling, leaving the trial to be a very short affair since the defenses have been eliminated by that Judge by express ruling.

The attorney representing the bank basically argued that the case was simple and that anything that happened prior to the alleged default was also irrelevant. The Judge agreed. So when a trial judge makes such rulings, he or she is basically narrowing the issue down to when we were just starting out in 2007 in what I call the dark ages. The trial becomes mostly clerical in which the only relevant issues are whether the homeowner received a loan and whether the homeowner stopped paying. All other issues are treated as irrelevant defenses, including the behavior of the “servicer” whose authority cannot be questioned (because of the presumption raised by an apparently facially valid instrument of virtually ANY sort).

The moral of the story is persistence and appeal. I believe that such rulings are reversible potentially even as interlocutory appeals as to affirmative defenses and discovery. If anyone files a lawsuit they should be required to answer all potential questions about that that lawsuit in good faith. That is what discovery is for. The strategy of moving to strike affirmative defenses is meant to cut off discovery to the point where no defenses can be raised or proven. And cutting off discovery is what the foreclosers need to do or they will face sanctions, charges of fraud, perjury and worse when the real facts are revealed.

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.

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