Modification Offers Are Enforceable Contracts

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We have all seen it, heard and experienced it over and over again. In this case Wells Fargo offered a “temporary” modification, it was accepted and the trial payments were made. Wells Fargo said the modification offer and acceptance lacked consideration — the height of arrogance since they have no transaction with consideration supporting their claim of ownership of the debt, note or mortgage.

Wells disavowed the settlement and went forward with foreclosure. The homeowner’s claim to enforce the modification contract was dismissed for failure to state a cause of action, agreeing with Wells Fargo that there was no consideration. The appellate court reversed stating that there was consideration and that it was more than adequate. There are now hundreds of cases in which trial judges and appellate courts have enforced the modification agreements.

Here is one you can look at:

http://www.ca4.uscourts.gov/Opinions/Unpublished/132390.U.pdf

JDSupra: It isn’t the crime — it is the cover up

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Bryan G. Scott has written an excellent article that should be read in its entirety at http://www.jdsupra.com/legalnews/its-not-the-crime-its-the-cover-up-e-39616/

This article runs to the heart of the mortgage mess, the cover-up and the potential impact on past, present and future foreclosures in the application of statutes of limitation relating to causes of action for violation of the truth in lending act, statutory remedies, and common-law actions in negligence and fraud. Using law from construction defects suits, the author has identified key factors in challenging the defense of the statute of limitations.

Because of the obvious danger posed by dishonest defendants concealing defects to take advantage of the statute of repose, many state legislatures have enacted fraud exceptions to their statutes of repose. The North Carolina statute of repose explicitly excludes “any person who shall have been guilty of fraud, or willful or wanton negligence” in the course of improving real property, and further excludes any person who has “wrongfully concealed” the fraud or willful or wanton negligence. N.C. Gen. Stat. § 1-50(a)(5)(e). Establishing the fraud or willfulness or wantonness necessary to invoke this exception is a high standard and typically requires proving the contractor or developer deliberately covered or concealed defects that it knew or should have known of in conscious disregard of the eventual owner’s rights. Where the defendant’s actions do not rise to this level, the North Carolina statutory exception does not apply.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: We already know that the servicers, investment banks and originators committed various acts of forgery, perjury, fabrication, robo-signing and other things that NO BANK WOULD ACCEPT IF THEY WERE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THIS ISSUE. They continue to hide the true facts, cover-up and otherwise obscure or wear down beleaguered homeowners. These are facts that lay solely within the care, custody and control of the banks who control the servicers and the trustees. The investors, trustees and borrowers are considered barred from even inquiring into the nonexistent transactions that lay at the base of the chain of fabricated documentation and the only way to get it is through illegal means that cannot be used in court or discovery which the courts won’t allow. In my opinion there are very few TILA violations where the statute of limitations should bar a claim because the basic facts of the loan contract have been withheld and intentionally misrepresented.]

The North Carolina Court of Appeals reaffirmed the application of equitable estoppel to construction defect disputes in its September 2014 decision in Trillium Ridge Condominium Association, Inc. v. Trillium Links & Village, LLC, No. COA14-183, ___ N.C. App. ___ (Sept. 16, 2014) (slip op.).

As explained in Trillium Ridge, equitable estoppel is available in proper cases under North Carolina law to bar a defendant from relying on either a statute of limitations or statute of repose. Equitable estoppel requires “(1) conduct on the part of the party sought to be estopped which amounts to a false representation or concealment of material facts; (2) the intention that such conduct will be acted on by the other party; (3) knowledge, actual or constructive, of the real facts.” White v. Consol. Planning, Inc. 166 N.C. App. 283, 305 (2004), disc. review denied, 359 N.C. 286 (2005). The party asserting the defense must have “(1) a lack of knowledge and the means of knowledge as to the real facts in question; and (2) relied upon the conduct of the party sought to be estopped to his prejudice.” Id. at 807. Furthermore, the plaintiff must have been induced to delay filing its legal action by the defendant’s misrepresentations. Jordan v. Crew, 125 N.C. App. 712, 720, disc. review denied, 346 N.C. 279 (1997).

Renters and Owners: Beware of Craig’s List

The marketplace is filled with “listings” on Craig’s List for rental of properties at prices that are too good to be true. The scammers are posing as local property owners who actually are out of town. They change the locks, enter the house, and prepare it for sale or rent. The owner comes back and finds a renter who demands that the lease be enforced as to possession, because the scammers were either apparent agents or actual agents of the owners. Suddenly the owner of a parcel becomes embroiled in litigation that takes their home off the market and possibly forces them into foreclosure or bankruptcy.

Prospective renters are taking a risk if they do not confirm the title of the property, the status of the property with respect to foreclosure, and the actual identity of the “broker” and the “owner” demanding proof thereof. If you put down first and last month rent, plus security of whatever, you could be kicked out in a matter of days unless you can show that the owner received some portion of those funds. The funds will never be recovered from thieves who are spending the money as they get it.

More sophisticated scammers are sending deposit checks to the real owner to have them cash it. When that happens, the law enforcement people might have no choice but to call it a civil matter. It is not inconceivable for the renter to challenge the title of the owner in such a situation although the law states otherwise.

The acceptance of the money (consideration) is one thing. But if the complaint says that a stranger stole their identity and then sold or rented the house, they might be opening the door for a challenge to that owner if defective title was acquired in a foreclosure sale that was faked by the banks, or where title was obtained from someone who obtained defective title.There is an open question about the right to challenge title where the sole reason for the eviction alleged is that the title is in the hands of the Plaintiff. Under the rules, a simple denial of that fact is a question of fact that must be heard by the court.

If it stays in a summary eviction proceeding the trial could be in a matter of days. But if the renter files in a higher court using causes of action challenging the right of the present “owner” to challenge the executed transaction because they didn’t suffer any damage (i.e., they didn’t own the house anyway and therefore were not entitled to proceeds of sale or rental)

That being the case, the argument could be made that the “strangers” had as much right to pose as the owners and agents of the named owners with or without their knowledge. Unlikely any renter would win on such an issue but possible that it could get by a motion to dismiss and tie up the property in litigation for months plus appeals.

This is the problem (see Grethen Morgneson’s article in New York Times about MERS) caused by MERS and pretender lenders, none of whom handle any money, accept any payments, or engage in any financial transactions with the homeowner who thinks they are getting a loan from the named payee. They are ALL naked nominees without a stake in the transaction.

The situation gets thick with fog as documents are piled on documents each one reciting that the previous document was valid even though the original document at the base of the pile was invalid, unenforceable and lacked the essential attributes of a valid contract — offer, acceptance of the same terms as the offer, and consideration (funding).

How To Tell The Judge “NO” and MAYBE Not Have Him/Her Get Pissed Off

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Did you take a loan?  Did you sign that note?

Editor’s Comment:  The question from the bench is always the same and either  pro se litigant or the attorney is too skittish to take a stand. The question is something like “Did you take a loan?” And the answer could be “Judge I have taken lots of loans,  but I never took any money from these people or any of the their predecessors. I deny the loan, I deny the debt, I deny the default. I deny the note, I deny the mortgage. I deny their right to collection or enforcement of the note or mortgage because I never did any business with them.” If they want to plead and prove otherwise, let them. [This of course ONLY applies to loans that are subject to claims of securitization, which we all know now were routinely ignored by the investment banker just as the assignments into the non-existent pools were routinely ignored, just as the attempt to get a foreclosure judge to rule that an investor without knowing anything about these proceedings is about to get stuck with a bad loan in which there is no value, improperly originated, and never properly assigned or delivered years after the 90 day cutoff period expired.]

The other questions is “Is that your signature on the note? Is that your signature on the mortgage (or Deed of Trust)?” And your answer could be “I don’t know which documents have my actual signature or which ones have been Photoshopped. Therefore I deny and demand they prove that this was my signature on that document. I do know that if they procured my signature on any document it was by trickery, deceit and fraud.” If they want to plead and prove otherwise, let them. But all you are going to see is paper. You will never see a financial transaction between me and them or any of their affiliates or predecessors because no such transaction ever took place.

If the Judge or anyone else asks you anymore questions, and frankly if you are bold enough, if you are asked any questions, your answer could be, “Judge, this is not an evidentiary hearing. If an allegation is being made against me I have a right to know who is making the allegation and what they are accusing me of doing.  Then you have a right to your answers once I have examined the books of records of all servicers — not just the ones that they want to show you, and all depositories wherein documents were supposedly stored. You will not find any record of any kind in which I entered into a financial transaction, loan or otherwise, with these people or any of their predecessors.

CONTRIBUTION: Many payments were made to the creditor that advanced you money. You must remember that they did not advance you money through the securitization chain but instead advanced you money directly from an escrow account, a Superfund, that commingled the money of all investors without regard to REMICS, trusts or any of those niceties and the people to whom the note was made payable and for which the mortgage secured an interest in your property never consummated any financial transaction with you. If they made a payment to the creditors (investors in parternship with each other at the time of the funding) THEN the money received by the agents of the those investors should have been credited against the money owed to those creditors. And part of that allocation should have been applied against the balance due on your loan, meaning your loan balance, unsecured, would be correspondingly reduced or eliminated. End of mortgage, no matter how you approach it. The obligation that originally gave rise to the supposedly secured debt has been satisfied either in part or more likely entirely. 

That leaves a new debt replacing the old debt, which is undocumented and unsecured — and a creditor with an action for contribution because they were obviously a co-obligor. If they say they are not the co-obligor then they are saying the PSA doesn’t apply. If the PSA doesn’t apply then they are not the authorized the servicer or whoever they are pretending to be because there was not actual securitization process.

I’ve been writing about this for years specifically in relation to payments by the servicer and assignments to the servicer or to the REMIC which would in fact extinguish the old debt and originate a new obligation that was neither memorialized by a promissory note from the borrower (because it had been extinguished) nor of course a mortgage or Deed of Trust that secured the extinguished note.

The new obligation may arise between the original borrower and the Assignee or between the original borrower and the payee (where the servicer continued to make payments) but only if the contributor could establish that portion of the claim to which they were entitled.  In other words, an assignment of the entire obligation to a co-obligor would extinguish the entire obligation.  The partial payment by a co-obligor would extinguish the old obligation only to the extent of the payment.  

The problem with getting traction on this is obvious.  It is a frontal assault on the obligation itself leaving the original creditor (if there ever was one) without a claim or with a partial claim, in the event of a partial payment giving rise to an action for contribution. This is only a problem though to the extent that you are asking the court to extinguish an existing obligation between you and the actual creditor — and the only way you can know that is by getting full and complete discovery from the Master Servicer and the Creditor. It’s only a problem if it looks like you are trying to  get out of the debt altogether instead of just attacking the the fact that the new debt could not possibly be recorded.

Complicating issues include establishment of a party as a co-obligor and perhaps even more so, the fact that the promissory note does not actually describe the financial transaction, as we have discussed.  Since the originator of the note did not actually consummate a financial transaction with the borrower, the note is either void or voidable for lack of consideration.  

Further complications arise when the borrower makes payment on the note thus “ratifying” the terms expressed in the note.  But this only occurs because the borrower was the only one at the closing table who did not know the payee, lender and beneficiary were all naked nominees who neither control nor their finances involved in the financial transaction between the borrower and the actual source of funds. 

If the would-be forecloser wants to rely on the PSA then they must accept the WHOLE PSA, which means that a loan in default does not qualify to be assigned, even if in proper form and the trustee or manager of the “pool” has no authority to accept it.  If the Judge in foreclosure court says the trustee or manager MUST accept it then he is adjudicating the rights of investors who explicitly agreed to advance money for performing loans that would be put in a  pool within 90 days to satisfy the requirements of the Internal Revenue Code and the provisions of the PSA which merely recite the REMIC provisions of the IRC.  They can’t have it both ways. They can’t say that those provisions don’t apply to the assignment and say that the OTHER PSA provisions giving them the right to service the loans and manage the portfolio also apply.

The fact that the borrower made a payment to a servicer under directions from a representative within the false securitization scheme should not give rise to an obligation to continue such payments; this is because the obligation arose with the actual financial transaction that was consummated between the borrower and the source of funds.  The source of funds was a stranger to the documentation that the borrower signed.  Since the actual handling of the money involved an escrow Superfund (or at least it appears that this is the case) we do not know if the “lender” is or could be identified from the larger group of investors whose money was intermingled and combined into a single escrow account.

The problem with the relationship of loans in “the pool” is that there doesn’t appear to have been a pool in which such a relationship could exist.  The co-mingling of funds in the accounts held by the investment banker might make all of the investors general partners in a common law general partnership.  We have found NO EVIDENCE OF SEPARATE ACCOUNTS for the individual REMICS. And the investment banker, sub-servicer and  Master servicer are fighting us tooth and nail in discovery requests to get that information. IF they had a legitimate claim, they would have produced it as exhibits to their own pleading. Instead they are trying to hide those facts and including the flow of funds starting from before the actual origination of the loan. Too many cases, we see Ginny or Fannie report ownership of a loan that has not even closed in the false sense , much less in the true sense where the borrower and lender are properly disclosed and the terms of repayment are known by both sides of the transaction.

However, this wouldn’t be the first time that we were correct and the judge did not follow the law.  It is for that reason that I have largely abandoned the argument about contribution and I have now started writing about the fact that if the assignment of the note was in fact an assignment of the obligation, the assignment was merely one element out of three required for a valid contract (offer, acceptance, consideration).   And while many people have now picked up on the fact that the trustee of the pool did not have the right to accept a loan which has been declared in default years after the cut off period expired, I have been going a little further suggesting that the state and federal judges are making decisions adverse to the investors by forcing them to accept a loan that they obviously wanted to avoid, and the acceptance of which would violate the terms under which they loaned the money.  

This is a tricky area to navigate because on the one hand you’re saying that the loan never made it into the pool but on the other you’re saying maybe it did get into the pool but if the only vehicle by which it made entry into the pool was a judicial order declaring in effect that the loan became part of the pool and therefore the entity representing the pool had a right to foreclosure, that order would constitute a judicial determination of the rights of investors who did not receive any notice of the proceeding nor any opportunity to be represented or heard before such an order could be entered.  These are difficult waters to navigate.  

Considerable thought should be given as to which strategy will be used.  There is an old adage that basically says you have approximately 30 seconds to get the judge’s attention (at most) and perhaps 5 minutes to make your point (at most).  Thus if you’re going to proceed along any of the tracks stated or discussed in this email you must be prepared to be limited to a ruling on that track alone.  If you have 20 other tracks that you think have validity, then make sure they are in the record by way of pleadings, affidavits and a memorandum of law before the hearing in which you raise one of the above defenses.  It is a good idea to bring up defenses for which the other side is unprepared and which the judge has not yet heard.  It diminishes the appearance of making a decision that will affect 5 million other mortgages.  Ultimately though the decision is between you and your lawyer.

This article was prompted by a very reasoned argument presented by CA Attorney Dan Hanacek:

Even In the Event the Court Finds the “Assignment” Valid, the Assigning of the Note to a Co-Obligor Makes it Functus Officio

“It has long been established in California that the assignment of a joint and several debt to one of the co-obligors extinguishes that debt.” (Gordon v. Wansey (1862) 21 Cal. 77, 79.) “The assignment amounts to payment and consequently the evidence of that debt, i.e., the note or judgment, becomes functus officio (of no further effect)”-and precludes any further action on the note itself. Any action would not be on the note itself, but rather one for contribution. (Id.; Quality Wash Group V, Ltd. V. Hallak (1996) 50 Cal.App.4th 1687, 1700; Civ. Code §1432.) In the instant case, even if the alleged assignment is seen to be valid, then a co-obligor was assigned the note and the debt has been extinguished.

Note: the trustee of the securitized trust is a co-obligor.

Note: Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae are co-obligors.

Note: the servicer is almost always a co-obligor.

Questions for Neil:

Have they extinguished this debt by endorsing it and/or assigning it to the transaction parties?

Does this only apply in CA?  I cannot believe that this would be the case.

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Obama Considers Ban on Foreclosures

the obligation created when the debtor entered the transaction may well be satisfied in whole or in part by the U.S. Taxpayer, insurers, or counterparties in credit default swaps. Wall Street attempts to frame the argument as giving a free house to the unworthy homeowner. The TRUE argument is what to do with all the excess undisclosed profits that paid the obligations of the homeowners many times over.


If the foreclosures were done in the name of entities that never advanced any money toward the funding of the loan, directly or indirectly, then all of the sales are improper, all of them create defective title and all of them will produce a torrent of unmarketable transactions in the coming years as buyers and lenders discover they cannot get title insurance.
Editor’s Note: Obama’s incremental approach is maddening but it seems that he is “getting it” step by step. First reported by Bloomberg news. this article from the NY Times summarizes the progress.
The problem remains that the administration is not addressing the issue of clear title and legal authority. Mr. Frey from Greenwich Financial highlights the point in his lawsuit against Bank of America accusing them of negotiating loans that the servicer does not own. This problem is not going away, and is getting worse with each new foreclosure sale at the steps of courthouses across the country.

If the foreclosures were done in the name of entities that never advanced any money toward the funding of the loan, directly or indirectly, then all of the sales are improper, all of them create defective title and all of them will produce a torrent of unmarketable transactions in the coming years as buyers and lenders discover they cannot get title insurance.
If money is being paid to servicers who lack authority to collect, then the debtor (borrower/homeowner) is in financial double jeopardy when the real creditor makes a claim. What will happen when Greenwich Financial or some other holder of mortgage backed securities makes their claim for repayment of the money they forked over allegedly to fund mortgages? What will happen when Greenwich Financial realizes that only a fraction of the money they paid went to fund mortgages and that the rest went to fees, profits, commissions and kickbacks? And where are the other investors, who incidentally are the only real creditors in this scenario?
An inconvenient and inescapable truth is that the servicers, whose fees rise as the loan becomes troubled and progresses from performing to delinquent, to default, to foreclosure and sale, are still getting paid on non-performing loans. If the loans are non-performing, where is the money coming from? It can only be coming from the payments made under performing loans, which directs our attention to the essential defect in the securitization of residential mortgage loans: the simplest of terms in every note that require the payments be allocated to the interest and principal on the note is being breached regularly and universally. This is the unethical and illegal result of cross collateralization and over-collateralization.
Wall Street blithely assumed they could disregard the terms of the note (use of proceeds) and mortgage when they securitized these “assets.” And there is the nub of the problem. The transaction starts out simple — money advanced by investors to fund mortgage loans to homeowners (debtors). But in order to make virtually ALL the money turn into fees and profits for Wall Street, the participants in the securitization chain ignored basic contract law, property law, lending laws, rules and regulations. The result was a tangle of claims from intermediaries who have no legal nor equitable interest in the revenue stream, principal or interest derived from those loans — all at the expense of the only two real parties to the transaction, to wit: the investor (creditor) and the homeowner (debtor).
A ban on foreclosures pending mandatory modification procedures is an imperfect step, but definitely in the right direction. It’s going to be a big pill to swallow when we finally come to terms with the fact that the parties at mediation or discussing modification only include one side (the debtor). It means coming to accept that all that TARP money went to the brokers instead of the principals. It means unraveling the now secret AIG documents that would show where the money went. It means performing an audit to determine where the money should be allocated.
And all of THAT means the obligation created when the debtor entered the transaction may well be satisfied in whole or in part by the U.S. Taxpayer, insurers, or counterparties in credit default swaps. Wall Street attempts to frame the argument as giving a free house to the unworthy homeowner.

The TRUE argument is what to do with all the excess undisclosed profits that paid the obligations of the homeowners many times over. Federal and State laws generally agree — failure to disclose the real parties and the real fees paid to all the participants in the transaction results in a liability to the homeowner for those undisclosed fees. The real answer is NOT to give more money to the intermediaries who never advanced a dime to fund these loans but rather, how to claw back the money and put the investors and the homeowners back in the position they were in before this huge fraud began.
Existing laws seem to address all of this in both lending and the issuance of securities. It’s payback time. The only question is whether anyone with the power to do so, will enforce the laws as they are already written. As of this writing, complaints to the FTC, OTC, FDIC, FED etc. produce nothing but an acknowledgment of receipt. The power is there. Where is the will?
February 26, 2010

U.S. Weighs Requiring Lenders to Consider Changes Before Foreclosures

The Obama administration, under intense pressure to help millions of people in danger of losing their homes, is considering a ban on foreclosures unless they have first been examined for potential modification, according to a set of draft proposals.

That would raise the stakes from the current practice, which strongly encourages lenders to evaluate defaulting borrowers for a modification but does not make it mandatory.

Meg Reilly, a Treasury Department spokeswoman, said Thursday that the proposed foreclosure ban was “one of the many ideas under consideration in the administration’s ongoing housing stabilization efforts.” The proposal was first reported by Bloomberg News.

Laurie Goodman, a senior managing director at the Amherst Securities Group who has been highly critical of the government’s modification program, said even if the proposal came to pass, it would not be “a major change. We think there is a large public relations element to this.”

The government could use some favorable public relations for its modification program, which has been deemed disappointing.

Begun a year ago, the program was meant to help as many as four million homeowners but has fallen considerably short of those goals. The Treasury Department has said 116,297 loans have been permanently modified and more than 800,000 more are in trial programs.

The Mortgage Bankers Association said its members were already doing what the administration was considering.

“Lenders generally go to foreclosure as a measure of last resort, after all other options, including loan modification, are exhausted,” said John Mechem, the trade group’s vice president for public affairs.

Any enhancements the government made to the modification program would be unlikely to stem many foreclosures, said Howard Glaser, a prominent housing consultant.

The modification program was designed for people who had subprime loans, he said, not for borrowers with high-quality loans who are unemployed. Tweaking the interest rate for an unemployed family does not provide enough help.

The Mortgage Bankers Association announced this week their own plan for reducing foreclosures: Lenders and loan servicers would reduce unemployed borrowers’ payments for up to nine months while they looked for new jobs.

The banking group said the servicers would need special loans from the Treasury to pay for the program. The administration has not commented publicly on the proposal.

“The real strategy in Washington now is to pray for an improving economy so these issues will resolve themselves,” Mr. Glaser said. “At the end of the day, a strong jobs market will prevent the generation of new foreclosures.”

There was some positive news in that regard last week, when the mortgage bankers said the number of borrowers entering default unexpectedly declined in the fourth quarter. But on Thursday, the government reported that home prices sank 1.6 percent in December, a fresh sign that the real estate market is nowhere near healed.

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