Foreclosure Prevention is Paying Off claim the GSEs

The GSEs claim to have prevented more than 49,000 foreclosures in the first quarter, an increase of nearly 5,000 preventions compared to Q4, according to the Federal Housing Finance Agency’s Q1 Foreclosure Prevention Report.  Unfortunately, the majority of these loans that were prevented from being foreclosed upon were held by parties that had no evidence of standing or ownership, and therefore had no right to negotiate.

According to the data, delinquencies, foreclosure starts, and REO inventories were all down in Q1, compared to Q4. Early delinquency (30-59) dropped most sharply, from more than 402,000 in Q4 to just under 318,000 in Q1. Serious delinquencies (above 90 days) dropped from just below 318,000 to almost 293,000. The number of all 60-plus days delinquent loans declined 10 percent to 377,622 at the end of the first quarter, the lowest level since 2008.

The total number of delinquent loans fell 15 percent in the first quarter of 2017. In Ohio, the number of seriously delinquent loans decreased 9 percent during the quarter. Florida’s serious delinquency rates dropped 8 percent; Texas, New Jersey, and Georgia by 7 percent. Total delinquent loans in Ohio dropped by 18 percent. Texas and Pennsylvania saw total delinquencies drop 16 percent in Q1.

The GSEs’ serious delinquency rate in Q1 fell to a flat 1 percent, which also is the lowest level since 2008. This compared with 4.0 percent for Federal Housing Administration loans, 2.1 percent for Veterans Affairs loans, and 2.8 percent for all loans (industry average).

REO inventory nationally was down 8 percent in Q1, to 44,460.

By the end of March, there were about 44,000 home retention actions overseen by the GSEs this year.  In most cases, the GSE has no evidence they purchased these loans.  For all of 2016, there were roughly 164,000 home retention actions. These include actions like loan modifications and repayment plans. Home foreclosure actions (short sales and deeds-in-lieu) dropped 9 percent in the first quarter of 2017 compared with the fourth quarter of 2016. There were 4,936 completed short sales and deeds-in-lieu in Q1.

The FHFA issued a statement saying, “These foreclosure alternatives help to reduce the severity of losses resulting from a borrower’s default and minimize the impact of foreclosures on borrowers, communities, and neighborhoods.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  These foreclosure alternatives to not reduce the severity of the losses because people end up negotiating unfavorable terms with entities that have no proof that the trust was ever funded. Banks and the GSEs are not in the business of assisting homeowners.

Most modifications require that people negotiate with a loan servicer who has no idea who the true creditor is.  Desperate homeowners end up accepting modifications where they must pay all arrears, the loan is extended beyond its original term and quite often requires a large balloon payment at the end of the modification.  At Livinglies we typically see loan modifications that are economically detrimental for the homeowner.  Most homeowners we counsel would be better off walking away, renting for a short amount of time, and then taking out a new government subsidized mortgage that requires a very low down payment.

There is no data to determine how many of these predatory loan modifications eventually result in default because the terms are unsustainable.  It is well known that the GSE Loans originated from 2001 to 2013 are usually defective and the trusts are empty.  The GSEs can pretend all they want that trillions of dollars of mortgage backed securities they sold to the Federal Reserve are collectiable and backed by real estate- but those of us who examine the documents, read the depositions and follow the money know that the entire GSE system is a facade.  The GSEs are weapons of Mass Destruction for the lower and middle classes.

 

Banks Fighting Subpoenas From FHFA Over Access to Loan Files

Whilst researching something else I ran across the following article first published in 2010. Upon reading it, it bears repeating.

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

WHAT IF THE LOANS WERE NOT ACTUALLY SECURITIZED?

In a nutshell this is it. The Banks are fighting the subpoenas because if there is actually an audit of the “content” of the pools, they are screwed across the board.

My analysis of dozens of pools has led me to several counter-intuitive but unavoidable factual conclusions. I am certain the following is correct as to all residential securitized loans with very few (2-4%) exceptions:

  1. Most of the pools no longer exist.
  2. The MBS sold to investors and insured by AIG and the purchase and sale of credit default swaps were all premised on a general description of the content of the pool rather than a detailed description with the individual loans attached on a list.
  3. Each Prospectus if it carried any spreadsheet listing loans, contained a caveat that the attached list was by example only and not the real loans.
  4. Each distribution report contained a caveat that the parties who created it and the parties who delivered it did not guarantee either authenticity or reliability of the report. They even had specific admonitions regarding the content of the distribution report.
  5. NO LOAN ACTUALLY MADE IT INTO ANY POOL. The evidence is clear: nothing was done to assign, indorse or deliver the note to the investors directly or indirectly until a case went into litigation AND a hearing was scheduled. By that time the cutoff date had been breached and the loan was non-performing by their own allegation and therefore was not acceptable into the pool.
  6. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE PROPERTY WAS MAINTAINED BY THE HOMEOWNER EVEN AFTER FORECLOSURE AND SALE. The actual creditor who submitted a credit bid was not the creditor. The sale is either void or voidable.
  7. AT ALL TIMES LEGAL TITLE TO THE LOAN WAS MAINTAINED BY THE ORIGINATING “LENDER”. Since there was no assignment, indorsement or delivery that could be recognized at law or in fact, the originating lender still owns the loan legally BUT….
  8. AT ALL TIMES THE OBLIGATION WAS BOTH CREATED AND EXTINGUISHED AT, OR CONTEMPORANEOUSLY WITH THE CLOSING OF THE LOAN. Since the originating lender was in fact not the source of funds, and did not book the transaction as a loan on their balance sheet (in most cases), the naming of the originating lender as the Lender and payee on the note, both created a LEGAL obligation from the borrower to the Lender and at the same time, the LEGAL obligation was extinguished because the LEGAL Lender of record was paid in full plus exorbitant fees for pretending to be an actual lender.
  9. Since the Legal obligation was both created and extinguished contemporaneously with each other, any remaining obligation to any OTHER party became unsecured since the security instrument (mortgage or deed of trust) refers only to the promissory note executed by the borrower.
  10. At the time of closing, the investor-lenders were the real parties in interest as lenders, but they were not disclosed nor were the fees of the various intermediaries who brought the investor-lender money and the borrower’s loan together.
  11. ALL INVESTOR-LENDERS RECEIVED THE EQUIVALENT OF A BOND — A PROMISE TO PAY ISSUED BY A PARTY OTHER THAN THE BORROWER, PREMISED UPON THE PAYMENT OR RECEIVABLES GENERATED FROM BORROWER PAYMENTS, CREDIT DEFAULT SWAPS, CREDIT ENHANCEMENTS, AND THIRD PARTY INSURANCE.
  12. Nearly ALL investor-lenders have been paid sums of money to satisfy the promise to pay contained in the bond. These payments always exceeded the borrowers payments and in many cases paid the obligation in full WITHOUT SUBROGATION.
  13. NO LOAN IS IN ACTUAL DEFAULT OR DELINQUENCY. Since payments must first be applied to outstanding payments due, payments received by investor-lenders or their agents from third party sources are allocable to each individual loan and therefore cure the alleged default. A Borrower’s Non-payment is not a default since no payment is due.
  14. ALL NOTICES OF DEFAULT ARE DEFECTIVE: The amount stated, the creditor, and other material misstatements invalidate the effectiveness of such a notice.
  15. NO CREDIT BID AT AUCTION WAS MADE BY A CREDITOR. Hence the sale is void or voidable.
  16. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO DEDUCTIONS FOR THIRD PARTY PAYMENTS.
  17. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR UNJUST ENRICHMENT THAT IS UNSECURED.
  18. ANY BALANCE DUE FROM THE BORROWER IS SUBJECT TO AN EQUITABLE CLAIM FOR A LIEN TO REFLECT THE INTENTION OF THE INVESTOR-LENDER AND THE INTENTION OF THE BORROWER.  Both the investor-lender and the borrower intended to complete a loan transaction wherein the home was used to collateralize the amount due. The legal satisfaction of the originating lender is not a deduction from the equitable satisfaction of the investor-lender. THUS THE PARTIES SEEKING TO FORECLOSE ARE SUBJECT TO THE LEGAL DEFENSE OF PAYMENT AT CLOSING BUT THE INVESTOR-LENDERS ARE NOT SUBJECT TO THAT DEFENSE.
  19. The investor-lenders ALSO have a claim for damages against the investment banks and the string of intermediaries that caused loans to be originated that did not meet the description contained in the prospectus.
  20. Any claim by investor-lenders may be subject to legal and equitable defenses, offsets and counterclaims from the borrower.
  21. The current modification context in which the securitization intermediaries are involved in settlement of outstanding mortgages is allowing those intermediaries to make even more money at the expense of the investor-lenders.
  22. The failure of courts to recognize that they must apply the rule of law results not only in the foreclosure of the property, but the foreclosure of the borrower’s ability to negotiate a settlement with an undisclosed equitable creditor, or with the legal owner of the loan in the property records.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena
Posted on July 14, 2010 by Foreclosureblues
Wednesday, July 14, 2010

foreclosureblues.wordpress.com

Editor’s Note….Even  U.S. Government Agencies have difficulty getting
discovery, lol…This is another excellent post from attorney Isaac
Gradman, who has the blog here…http://subprimeshakeout.blogspot.com.
He has a real perspective on the legal aspect of the big picture, and
is willing to post publicly about it.  Although one may wonder how
these matters may effect them individually, my point is that every day
that goes by is another day working in favor of those who stick it out
and fight for what is right.

Loan File Issue Brought to Forefront By FHFA Subpoena

The battle being waged by bondholders over access to the loan files
underlying their investments was brought into the national spotlight
earlier this week, when the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the
regulator in charge of overseeing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, issued
64 subpoenas seeking documents related to the mortgage-backed
securities (MBS) in which Freddie and Fannie had invested.
The FHFA
has been in charge of overseeing Freddie and Fannie since they were
placed into conservatorship in 2008.

Freddie and Fannie are two of the largest investors in privately
issued bonds–those secured by subprime and Alt-A loans that were often
originated by the mortgage arms of Wall St. firms and then packaged
and sold by those same firms to investors–and held nearly $255 billion
of these securities as of the end of May. The FHFA said Monday that it
is seeking to determine whether issuers of these so-called “private
label” MBS misled Freddie and Fannie into making the investments,
which have performed abysmally so far, and are expected to result in
another $46 billion in unrealized losses to the Government Sponsored
Entities (GSE).

Though the FHFA has not disclosed the targets of its subpoenas, the
top issuers of private label MBS include familiar names such as
Countrywide and Merrill Lynch (now part of BofA), Bear Stearns and
Washington Mutual (now part of JP Morgan Chase), Deutsche Bank and
Morgan Stanley. David Reilly of the Wall Street Journal has written an
article urging banks to come forward and disclose whether they have
received subpoenas from the FHFA, but I’m not holding my breath.

The FHFA issued a press release on Monday regarding the subpoenas
(available here). The statement I found most interesting in the
release discusses that, before and after conservatorship, the GSEs had
been attempting to acquire loan files to assess their rights and
determine whether there were misrepresentations and/or breaches of
representations and warranties by the issuers of the private label
MBS, but that, “difficulty in obtaining the loan documents has
presented a challenge to the [GSEs’] efforts. FHFA has therefore
issued these subpoenas for various loan files and transaction
documents pertaining to loans securing the [private label MBS] to
trustees and servicers controlling or holding that documentation.”

The FHFA’s Acting Director, Edward DeMarco, is then quoted as saying
““FHFA is taking this action consistent with our responsibilities as
Conservator of each Enterprise. By obtaining these documents we can
assess whether contractual violations or other breaches have taken
place leading to losses for the Enterprises and thus taxpayers. If so,
we will then make decisions regarding appropriate actions.” Sounds
like these subpoenas are just the precursor to additional legal
action.

The fact that servicers and trustees have been stonewalling even these

powerful agencies on loan files should come as no surprise based on

the legal battles private investors have had to wage thus far to force

banks to produce these documents. And yet, I’m still amazed by the

bald intransigence displayed by these financial institutions. After

all, they generally have clear contractual obligations requiring them

to give investors access to the files (which describe the very assets

backing the securities), not to mention the implicit discovery rights

these private institutions would have should the dispute wind up in

court, as it has in MBIA v. Countrywide and scores of other investor

suits.

At this point, it should be clear to everyone–servicers and investors
alike–that the loan files will have to be produced eventually, so the
only purpose I can fathom for the banks’ obduracy is delay. The loan
files should, as I’ve said in the past, reveal the depths of mortgage
originator depravity, demonstrating convincingly that the loans never
should have been issued in the first place. This, in turn, will force
banks to immediately reserve for potential losses associated with
buying back these defective mortgages. Perhaps banks are hoping that
they can ward off this inevitability long enough to spread their
losses out over several years, thereby weathering the storm caused (in
part) by their irresponsible lending practices. But certainly the
FHFA’s announcement will make that more difficult, as the FHFA’s
inherent authority to subpoena these documents (stemming from the
Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008) should compel disclosure
without the need for litigation, and potentially provide sufficient
evidence of repurchase obligations to compel the banks to reserve
right away. For more on this issue, see the fascinating recent guest
post by Manal Mehta on The Subprime Shakeout regarding the SEC’s
investigation into banks’ processes for allocating loss reserves.

Meanwhile, the investor lawsuits continue to rain down on banks, with
suits by the Charles Schwab Corp. against Merrill Lynch and UBS, by
the Oregon Public Employee Retirement Fund against Countrywide, and by
Cambridge Place Investment Management against Goldman Sachs, Citigroup
and dozens of other banks and brokerages being announced this week. If
the congealing investor syndicate was looking for political cover
before staging a full frontal attack on banks, this should provide
ample protection. Much more to follow on these and other developments
in the coming days…
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Posted by Isaac Gradman at 3:46 PM

Fannie and Freddie Demand $6 Billion for Sale of “Faulty Mortgage Bonds”

You read the news on one settlement after another, it sounds like the pound of flesh is being exacted from the culprits again and again. This time the FHFA, as owner of Fannie and Freddie, is going for a settlement with Bank of America for sale of “faulty mortgage bonds.” And most people sit back and think that justice is being done. It isn’t. $6 Billion is window dressing on a liability that is at least 100 times that amount. And stock analysts take comfort that the legal problems for the banks has basically been discounted already. It hasn’t.

For practitioners who defend mortgage foreclosures, you must dig a little deeper. The term “faulty mortgage bonds” is a euphemism. Look at the complaints there filed. When they are filed by agencies it means that after investigation they have arrived at the conclusion that something was. very wrong with the sale of mortgage bonds. That is an administrative finding that concluded there was at least probable cause for finding that the mortgage bonds were defective and potentially were criminal.

So what does “defective” or “faulty” mean? Neither the media nor the press releases from the agencies or the banks tell us what was wrong with the bonds. But if you look at the complaints of the agencies, they tell you what they mean. If you look at the investor lawsuits you see that they are alleging that the notes and mortgages were “unenforceable.” Both the agencies and the investors filed complaints alleging that the mortgage bonds were a farce, sham or in other words, a PONZI Scheme.

Why is that important to foreclosure defense? Digging deeper you will find what I have been reporting on this blog. The investors money was not used to fund the REMIC trusts. The unfunded trusts never had the money to buy or fund the origination of bonds. The notes and mortgages were never sold to the Trusts even though “assignments” were executed and shown in court. The assignments themselves were either backdated or violated the 90 day cutoff that under applicable law (the laws of the State of New York) are VOID and not voidable.

What to do? File Freedom of Information Act requests for the findings, allegations and names of investigators for the agency that were involved in the agency action. Take their deposition. Get documents. Find put what mortgages were looked at and which bond series were involved. Get a list of the mortgages and the bonds that were examined. Get the findings on each mortgage and each mortgage bond. Use the the investor allegations as lender admissions admissions in court — that the notes and mortgages are unenforceable.

There is a disconnect between what is going on at the top of the sham securitization chain and what went on in sham mortgage originations and sham sales of loans. They never happened in the real world, no matter how much paper you throw at it.

And that just doesn’t apply to mortgages in default — it applies to all mortgages, which is why all the mortgages that currently exist, and most of the deeds that show ownership of the property have clouded and probably “defective” and “faulty” titles. It’s clear logic that the government and the banks are seeking to avoid, to wit: that if the way in which the money was raised to fund the loans or purchase the loans were defective, then it follows that there are defects in the chain of title and the money trail that were obviously not disclosed, as per the requirements of TILA and Reg Z.

And when you keep digging in discovery you will find out that your client has some clear remedies to collect the profits and compensation paid to undisclosed recipients arising out of the closing of the “loan.” These are offsets to the amount claimed as due. If the loan was not funded by the Trust, then the false paper trail used by the banks in foreclosure is subject to successful attack. If the loans were in fact funded directly by the trust complying with the REMIC provisions of the Internal Revenue Code, then the payee on the note and the mortgagee on the mortgage would be the trust — or if the loan was actually purchased, the Trust would have issued money to the seller (something that never happened).

And lastly, for now, let us look at the capital structure of these banks. A substantial portion of their capital derives from assets in the form of mortgage bonds. This is the most blatant lie of all of them. No underwriter buys the securities issued by the company seeking financing through an offering to investors. It is an oxymoron. The whole purpose of the underwriter was to create securities that would be appealing to investors. The securities are only issued when you have a buyer for them, and then the investor is the owner of the security — in this case mortgage bonds.

The bonds are not issued to the investment bank as an asset of the investment bank. But they ARE issued to the investment bank in “street name.” That is merely to facilitate trading and delivery of certificates which in most cases in the mortgage bond market don’t exist. The issuance in street name does not mean the banks own the mortgage bonds any more than when you a stock and the title is issued in street name mean that you have loaned or gifted the investment to the investment bank.

If you follow the logic of the investment bank then the deposits of money by depository customers could be claimed as assets — without the required entry in the liabilities section of the balance sheet because every dollar on deposit is a liability to pay those monies on demand, which is why checking accounts are referred to as demand deposits.

Hence the “asset” has been entered on the investment bank balance sheet without the corresponding liability on the other side of their balance sheet. And THAT remains that under cover of Federal Reserve purchase of these bonds from the banks, who don’t own the bonds, the value of the bonds is 100 cents on the dollar and the owner is the bank — a living lies fundamental. When the illusion collapses, the banks are coming down with it. You can only go so far lying to the public and the investment community. Eventually the reality is these banks are underfunded, under capitalized and still being propped up by quantitative easing disguised as the purchase of mortgage bonds at the rate of $85 Billion per month.

We need to be preparing for the collapse of the illusion and get the other financial institutions — 7,000 community and regional banks and credit unions — ready to take on the changes caused by the absence of the so-called major banks who are really fictitious entities without a foundation related to economic reality. The backbone is already available — electronic funds transfer is as available to the smallest bank as it is to the largest. It is an outright lie that we need the TBTF banks. They have failed and cannot recover because of the enormity of the lies they told the world. It’s over.

Deutsch and Goldman Lose Bid to Dismiss FHFA Lawsuit for Fraud

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Administrative Process May Provide a Lift to Borrowers

Editor’s Comment: Following on the heals of a similar ruling against JPMorgan Chase, Judge Denise Cote, denied the motion to dismiss the lawsuit of the Federal Housing Finance Agency that overseas Fannie and Freddie.

Simply put the agency is charging the investment banks with intentionally misrepresenting the underwriting standards that were in use during the mortgage meltdown. To put it more simply, the fraud we know that occurred at ground zero (the “closing” table) is being traced up the line to the banks that were pulling the strings and causing the fraud.

The allegations of course are insufficient in and of themselves to use as proof of anything. They are unproven allegations in a civil court suit in Federal Court in Manhattan. BUT there is an interesting argument to be made here that should not be ignored. I did a lot of work in administrative law when I was practicing full-time.

The procedure that any agency follows in filing such a lawsuit is something that should be pointed out when you are making arguments about fraud in the origination or assignments of loans.

In order for an agency to file suit, there must be a “finding” that the facts alleged in the complaint are true. In order for that to happen there must be an investigation and it must be brought before a committee or board for a finding of probable cause.

Normally the finding of probable cause would result in an administrative action brought before a hearing officer that would result in either acquittal of the offending suspect (respondent) or fines, penalties or even revocation of their right to do business with the agency or under the auspices of the agency.

Here the action is brought in civil court which must mean that the findings were strong enough to go beyond probable cause to establish in the findings of the agency that these violations did occur beyond a reasonable doubt. Hence, it could be argued, given the structure and process of administrative actions, that the investment banks have already been found by administrative agencies to be fraudulent.

Then you go to the facts alleged and see what those facts were (see article on JPMorgan denial of dismissal for copy of the complaint). Where there are similarities, you can allege the same thing and apply it to the origination of the loan and the so-called assignments and claims of securitization. AND you can say that there has already been an administrative finding that the fraud occurred, which is persuasive authority at a minimum.

In these cases the investment banks are accused of intentionally lying about the underwriting standards used in origination of the loans — something we have been saying here for  years.

That means it was no mistake that they failed to put the name of the real payee on the note and mortgage and it was no mistake that they failed to reference the REMIC or the pooling and servicing agreement which set the terms of repayment, sometimes in direct contradiction to the terms expressed in the note that they induced the borrower to sign. The information was intentionally withheld from the borrower and promptly used with Fannie and Freddie knowing ti was false, as to verifications of value, income viability etc. (see previous post).

In essence the FHFA is saying the same thing that the investors are saying, which is the same thing that the borrowers are saying — these origination documents are worthless scraps of paper replete with deficiencies, lies and misrepresentations, unsupported by consideration and unenforceable.

The defense of the investment banks is that they HAVE been enforcing the notes and mortgages (Deeds of trust). They are saying that since the courts have let most of the cases go to foreclosure, the documents must be valid and enforceable. If improper underwriting standards had been used, or more properly stated, if underwriting standards were ignored, then the borrower would have had a right to rescission, which the courts have largely rejected. It is circular reasoning but it works, for the most part when it is a single homeowner against a big bank.

But when it is institution against institution its not so easy to pull the wool over the judge’s eyes. AND unlike the borrowers, the FHFA is not plagued with guilt over whether they were stupid to begin with and therefore deserve the punishment of taking the largest loss of their lives.

The answer to that is that the banks were only able to “enforce” as a result of the ignorance of the judges, lawyers and borrowers as to the truth behind the facts of each loan origination, assignment etc.

By Jonathan Stempel, Reuters

A U.S. judge rejected bids by Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) and Deutsche Bank AG (DBKGn.DE) to dismiss a federal regulator’s lawsuits accusing them of misleading Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB) and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB) into buying billions of dollars of risky mortgage debt.

In separate decisions on Monday, U.S. District Judge Denise Cote in Manhattan said the Federal Housing Finance Agency may pursue fraud claims over some of the banks’ representations in offering materials regarding mortgage underwriting standards.

The FHFA had sued over certificates that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, known as government-sponsored enterprises, had bought between September 2005 and October 2007.

Goldman underwrote about $11.1 billion of the certificates, and Deutsche Bank roughly $14.2 billion, the regulator has said.

Michael DuVally, a Goldman spokesman, declined to comment, as did Deutsche Bank spokeswoman Renee Calabro. Trials in both cases are scheduled to begin in September 2014.

Last year, the FHFA filed 18 lawsuits against banks and finance companies over mortgage losses suffered by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on roughly $200 billion of securities.

Cote handles 16 of the lawsuits, and previously refused to dismiss its cases against Bank of America Corp’s (BAC.N) Merrill Lynch unit, JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) and UBS AG (UBSN.VX).

In her Deutsche Bank ruling, the judge said that while the offering materials said representations were “preliminary” and “subject to change,” their use suggested that the German bank “fully intended the GSEs to rely on” them.

Meanwhile, Cote rejected what she called Goldman’s “legally dubious” claim not to be liable over prospectus supplements it did not write, saying “it is difficult to square with the fact that the bank’s name is prominently displayed on each.”

She dismissed some claims over representations concerning owner-occupied homes and loan values.

The FHFA became the conservator of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac after federal regulators seized the mortgage financiers on September 7, 2008.

In May, Deutsche Bank agreed to pay $202.3 million in a separate federal probe, in which its MortgageIT unit admitted it had lied to the U.S. government over whether its loans were eligible for federal mortgage insurance.

Cote said it is too soon to decide liability over MortgageIT activity that predated its 2007 takeover by Deutsche Bank.

The cases are Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Deutsche Bank AG et al, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-06192; and Federal Housing Finance Agency v. Goldman Sachs & Co et al in the same court, No. 11-06198.

(Reporting By Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by John Wallace, Tim Dobbyn and M.D. Golan)

CORRUPTION OF TITLE CHAINS IS PANDEMIC

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Editor’s Notes:  

As we predicted more and more County recorder offices are suing to collect transfer fees on loans that have gone to foreclosure under the allegation that a valid loan and lien was transferred.  Expect other revenue collectors in the states to start doing the same for registration fees, taxes, interest, penalties and fines. This battle is just beginning. We are now about to enter the phase of finger pointing in which each type of defendant — bank, servicer, MERS, Fannie, Freddie etc. defends with varying exotic defenses that more or less point the finger at some other part of the securitization chain. 
The real story is that title chains have been irretrievably corrupted — which means that title cannot be established by using the documents alone. Parole evidence from witnesses and production of back-up documents must show the path of the loan and the proof that the transaction was real. Defenders of these lawsuits may be forced to admit that there was no actual financial transaction and that the assignments were assignments of “convenience” negating the reality of the transfer or of any transaction at all. 
Either way they are going to have a problem that can’t be fixed. They can’t prove up the documents because the documents are contrary to the path of monetary transactions and recite facts that are untrue —- in addition to the fact that the documents themselves were fabricated, forged, robo-signed and fraudulently presented. This is why I say that regardless of how hard anyone tries to do the wrong thing, the only right way to correct these problems is to negate the foreclosures that have already been concluded, stop the ones that are being conducted in the same way as the old way, and make them prove up their right to foreclose. They either must admit that there were not valid transactions — including the original note and mortgage — or they won’t be able to prove a valid transaction because the money came from sources other than those shown on the closing documents. 
The actual sources of the money loaned the money to borrowers without documentation believing they had the documentation. But the mere fact that borrowers signed documents is not an invitation for any stranger to imply that it was for their benefit. For these reasons the mortgage in most cases was never perfected into a valid lien and cannot be perfected without corrective instruments signed by the borrower or upon some order by a court. But the courts are going to be far more careful about the proof here. Most Judges are going to take the position that they could be fooled once when the foreclosure originally went through on the premise of valid documents and an actual financial transaction attached to THOSE documents, but that they won’t be fooled a a second time. They will demand proof. And proof according to the normal rules of evidence is completely lacking because the entire securitization chain was a lie from one end to the other.
The borrower will end up owing the money less offsets for payments received by the real creditor, once the identity of the real creditor is revealed, but the absence of a mortgage or deed of trust naming that actual creditor will void the mortgage and negate the credit bid at the auction.

Ohio lawsuit accuses Freddie Mac of fraud

by Tara Steele

The battle between Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and various government entities continues, each taking a different approach on the battlefield.

Freddie Mac sued by county in Ohio

Last year, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems Inc. (MERS) became the subject of lawsuits from counties across the nation as District Attorneys allege the company never owned the loans they were facilitating foreclosures for, and in most cases, judges agree, and their authority to facilitate has been denied in several counties. Dallas County alleges the mortgage-tracking system violates Texas laws and shorted the county anywhere from $58 million to over $100 million in uncollected filing fees due to the MERS system, dating back to 1997.

Others sued MERS as well; in February, in the U.S. Court for the Western District of Kentucky, Chief Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Christian County Clerk, denying relief to the County for the same relief sought by Dallas County and others.

Rampant mortgage fraud, continued robosigning

Studies have shown that MERS destroyed the chain of title in America, and other studies reveal that illegal robosigning is still in play, and that foreclosure fraud has occurred in themajority of loans.

As the courts have not yet rewarded cities, counties, or states pursuing action against MERS, other tactics are being taken by these entities, for example, Louisiana is using RICO laws to sue MERS.

Summit County, Ohio taking a different approach

Summit County, Ohio filed a lawsuit1 Tuesday against Freddie Mac, alleging a failure to pay fees on transfer taxes on over 3,500 real estate transactions over six years. Court documents show that the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation is accused of committing fraud by claiming it was a government entity, thereby exempt from transfer taxes. The County has not released a final assessment of the amount they believe is due, but they will also be seeking interest and penalties.

This approach is far different than going after MERS (which coincidentally was established by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over 15 years ago), rather going directly after the still-functioning Freddie Mac.

“The reality is Freddie Mac is a federally chartered, private corporation and they should have been paying these fees and taxes,” Assistant Prosecutor Joe Fantozzi told the Akron Beacon Journal.

Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae began paying transfer taxes in 2009, so the lawsuit is only seeking transfer taxes due from 2002 through 2008, which in Summit County are $4 per $1,000 on all real estate transactions. Additionally, the county also charges a 50-cent lot fee and recording fees, which are $28 for the first two pages and $8 for each additional page.

Fannie Mae not named, FHFA already fighting back

Although Geauga County in Ohio sued MERS, Chase Bank, and CoreLogic, the Akron Beacon Journal reports that Summit County is believed to be the first county in the state to file legal action against Freddie Mac. Fannie Mae was not named in the suit due to the low volume of mortgages in the county it handled during the time period.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the conservator of Fannie and Freddie, is fighting back on these same battle lines, suing in Illinois to validate the two mortgage giants’ tax-exempt status, the Chicago Tribune reported. This move is likely an effort to circumvent more lawsuits like the one currently being filed in Summit County.

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How the Servicers and Investment Banks Cheat Investors and Homeowners

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Master Servicers and Subservicers Maintain Fictitious Obligations

Editor’s Comment: 

This article really is about why discovery and access to the information held by the Master Servicer and subservicer, investment bank and Trustee for the REMIC (“Trust”) is so important. Without an actual accounting, you could be paying on a debt that does not exist or has been extinguished in bankruptcy because it was unsecured. In fact, if it was extinguished in bankruptcy, giving them the house or payment might even be improper. Pressing on the points made in this article in order to get full rights in discovery (interrogatories, admissions and production) will yield the most beneficial results.

Michael Olenick (creator of FindtheFraud) on Naked Capitalism gets a lot of things right in the article below. The most right is that servicers are lying and cheating investors in addition to cheating homeowners.

The subservicer is the one the public knows. They are the ones that collect payments from the “borrower” who is the homeowner. In reality, they have no right to collect anything from the homeowner because they were appointed as servicer by a party who is not a creditor and has no authority to act as agent for the creditor. They COULD have had that authority if the securitization chain was real, but it isn’t.

Then you have the Master Servicers who are and should be called the Master of Ceremonies. But the Master Servicer is basically a controlled entity of the investment bank, which is why everyone is so pissed — these banks are making money and getting credit while the rest of us can’t operate businesses, can’t get a job, and can’t get credit for small and medium sized businesses.

Cheating at the subservicer level, even if they were authorized to take payments, starts with the fees they charge against the account, especially if it becomes (delinquent” or in “default” or “Nonperforming.” At the same time they are telling the investors that the loan is a performing loan and they are making payments somewhere in the direction of the investors (we don’t actually know how much of that payment actually gets received by investors), they are also declaring defaults and initiating a foreclosure.

What they are not reporting is that they don’t have the paperwork on the loan, and that the value of the portfolio is either simply over-stated, which is bad enough, or that the portfolio is worthless, which of course is worse. Meanwhile the pension fund managers do not realize that they are sitting on assets that may well have a negative value and if they don’t handle the situation properly, they might be assessed for the negative value.

It gets even worse. Since the money and the loans were not handled, paid or otherwise organized in the manner provided in the pooling and servicing agreement and prospectus, the SPV (“Trust”) does not exist and has no assets in it — but it might have some teeth that could bite the hand that fed the banks. If the REMIC was not created and the trust was not created or funded, then the investors who in fact DID put up money are in a common law general partnership. And since the Credit Default Swaps were traded using the name of  entities that identified groups of investors, the investors might be hit with an assessment to cover a loss that the “pool” can’t cover because they only have a general partnership created under common law. Their intention to enter into a deal where there was (a) preferential tax status (REMIC) and (b) limited liability would both fall apart. And that is exactly what happened.

The flip side is that the credit default swaps, insurance, credit enhancements, and so forth could have and in most cases did produce a surplus, which the banks claimed as solely their own, but which in fact should have at least been allocated to the investors up to the point of the liability to them (i.e., the money taken from them by the investment bank).

AND THAT is why borrowers should be very interested in having the investors get their money back from the trading, wheeling and dealing made with the use of the investors’ money. Think about it. The investors gave up their money for funding mortgages and yours was one of the mortgages funded. But the vehicle that was used was not a simple  one. The money taken from the investors was owed by the REMIC in whose name the trading in the secret derivative market occurred.

Now think a little bit more. If the investors get their rightful share of the money made from the swaps and insurance and credit enhancements, then the liability is satisfied — i.e., the investor got their money back with interest just like they were expecting.

But, and here is the big one, if the investor did get paid (as many have been under the table or as part of more complex deals) then the obligation to them has been satisfied in full. That would mean by definition that the obligation from anyone else on repayment to the investor was extinguished or transferred to another party. Since the money was funded from investor to homeowner, the homeowner therefore does not owe the investor any money (not any more, anyway, because the investor has been paid in full). The only valid transfer would be FROM the REMIC partnership not TO it. But the fabricated, forged and fraudulent documents are all about transferring the loan TO the REMIC that was never formed and never funded.

It is possible that another party may be a successor to the homeowner’s obligation to the investor. But there are prerequisites to that happening. First of all we know that the obligation of the homeowner to the investor was not secured because there was no agreement or written instrument of any kind in which the investor and the borrower both signed and which set forth terms that were disclosed to both parties and were the subject of an agreement, much less a mortgage naming the investor. That is why the MERS trick was played with stating the servicer as the investor. That implies agency (which doesn’t really exist).

Second we know that the SWAPS and the insurance were specifically written with expressly worded such that AIG, MBIA etc. each waived their right to get payment from the borrower homeowner even though they were paying the bill.

Third we know that most payments were made by SWAPS, insurance and the Federal Reserve deals, in which the Fed also did not want to get involved in enforcing debts against homeowners and that is why the Federal Reserve has never been named as the creditor even though they in fact, would be the creditor because they have paid 100 cents on the dollar to the investment bank who did NOT allocate that money to the investors.

Since they did not allocate that money to the investors, as servicers (subservicer and Master Servicer), they also did not allocate the payment against the homeowner borrower’s debt. If they did that, they would be admitting what we already know — that the debt from homeowner to investor has been extinguished, which means that all those other credit swaps, insurance and enhancements that are STILL IN PLAY, would collapse. That is what is happening in our own cities, towns, counties and states and what is happening in Europe. It is only by keeping what is now only a virtual debt alive in appearance that the banks continue to make money on the Swaps and other exotic instruments. But it is like a tree without the main trunk. We have only branches left. Eventually in must fall, like any other Ponzi scheme or House of Cards.

So by cheating the investors, and thus cheating the borrowers, they also cheated the Federal Reserve, the taxpayers and European banks based upon a debt that once existed but has long since been extinguished. If you waded through the above (you might need to read it more than once), then you can see that your  feeling, deep down inside that you owe this money, is wrong. You can see that the perception that the obligation was tied to a perfected mortgage lien on the property was equally wrong. And that we now have $700 trillion in nominal value of derivatives that has at least one-third in need of mark-down to zero. The admission of this inescapable point would immediately produce the result that Simon Johnson and others so desperately want for economic reasons and that the rest of us want for political reasons — the break-up of banks that are broken. Only then will the market begin to function as a more or less free trading market.

How Servicers Lie to Mortgage Investors About Losses

By Michael Olenick

A post last week reviewed a botched foreclosure for a mortgage loan in Ace Securities Home Equity Loan Trust 2007-HE4 dismissed with prejudice, meaning that the foreclosure cannot be refilled; a total loss for investors. Next, we reviewed why the trust has not yet recorded the loss despite the six month old verdict.

As an experiment, I gave my six year-old daughter four quarters. She just learned how to add coins so this pleased her. Then I told her I would take some number of quarters back, and asked her how many I should take. Her first response was one – smart kid – then she changed her mind to two, because we’d each have two and that’s the most “fair.” Having mastered the notion of loss mitigation and fairness, and because it’s not nice to torture six year-old children with experiments in economics, I allowed her to keep all four.

When presented with a similar question – whether to take a partial loss via a short-sale or principal reduction, or whether to take a larger loss through foreclosure – the servicers of ACE2007-HE4 repeatedly opt for the larger losses. While the dismissal with prejudice for the Guerrero house is an unusual, the enormous write-off it comes with through failure to mitigate a breach – to keep overall damages as low as possible – is common. When we look more closely at the trust, we see the servicer again and again, either through self-dealing or laziness, taking actions that increase losses to investors. And this occurs even though the contract that created the securitization, a pooling and servicing agreement, requires the servicer to service the loans in the best interest of the investors.

Let’s examine some recent loss statistics from ACE2007-HE4. In May, 2012 there were 15 houses written-off, with an average loss severity of 77%. Exactly one was below 50% and one, in Gary, IN, was 145%; the ACE investors lent $65,100 to a borrower with a FICO score of 568 then predictably managed to lose $94,096. In April, there were 23 homes lost, with an average loss severity of 82%, three below 50%, though one at 132%, money lent to a borrower with an original FICO score of 588.

Of course, those are the loans with finished foreclosures. There are 65 loans where borrowers missed at least four consecutive payments in the last year with yet there is no active foreclosure. Among those are a loan for $593,600 in Allendale, NJ, where the borrower has not made a payment in about four years, though they have been in and out of foreclosure a few times during that period. It’s not just the judicial foreclosure states; a $350,001 loan in Compton, CA also hasn’t made a payment in over a year and there is no pending foreclosure.

There is every reason to think the losses will be higher for these zombie borrowers than on the recent foreclosures. First, every month a borrower does not pay the servicer pays the trust anyway, though the servicer is then reimbursed the next month, mainly from payments of other borrowers still paying. This depletes the good loans in the trust, so that the trust will eventually run out of money leaving investors holding an empty bag. And on top of that, when the foreclosure eventually occurs, the servicer also reimburses himself for all sorts of fees, late fees, the regular servicing fee, broker price opinions, etc. Longer times in foreclosure mean more fees to servicers. Second, the odds are decent that the servicers are holding off on foreclosing on these homes because the losses are expected to be particularly high. Why would servicers delay in these cases? Perhaps because they own a portfolio of second mortgages. More sales of real estate that wipe out second liens would make it harder for them to justify the marks on those loans that they are reporting to investors and regulators. Revealing how depressed certain real estate markets were if shadow inventory were released would have the same effect.

These loans will eventually end up either modified or foreclosed upon, but either way there will be substantial losses to the trust that have not been accounted for. Of course, this assumes that the codes and status fields are accurate; in the case of the Guerreros’ loan the write-off – with legal fees for the fancy lawyers who can’t figure out why assignments are needed to the trust – is likely to be enormous. How much? Nobody except Ocwen knows, and they’re not saying.

Knowing that an estimated loss of 77%, is if anything an optimistic figure, even before we get to the unreported losses on the Guerrero loan, it seems difficult to understand why Ocwen wouldn’t first try loss mitigation that results in a lower loss severity. If they wrote-off half the principal of the loan, and decreased interest payments to nothing, they’d come out ahead.

Servicers give lip service to the notion that foreclosure is an option of last resort but, only when recognizing losses, do their words seem to sync with their behavior. But it’s all about the incentives: servicers get paid to foreclose and they heap fees on zombie borrowers, but even with all sorts of HAMP incentives, they don’t feel they get paid enough to do the work to do modifications. Servicers are reimbursed for the principal and interest they advance, the over-priced “forced placed insurance” that costs much more and pays out much less than regular insurance, “inspections” that sometimes involve goons kicking in doors before a person can answer, high-priced lawyers who can’t figure out why an assignment is needed to bind a property to a trust, and a plethora of other garbage fees. They’re like a frat-boy with dad’s credit-card, and a determination to make the best of it while dad is still solvent.

Despite the Obama campaign promise to bring transparency to government and financial markets, the investors in trusts remain largely unknown, so we’re not sure who bears the brunt of the cost of Ocwen’s incompetence in loss mitigation (to be fair Ocwen is not atypical; most servicers are atrocious). But, ACE2007-HE4 has a few unique attributes allowing us to guess who is affected.

ACE2007-HE4 is named in a lawsuit filed by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which has sued ACE, trustee Deutsche Bank, and a few others citing material misrepresentations in the prospectus of this trust. As pointed out in the prior article, both the Guerreros’ first and second loans were bundled into the same trust – so there were definitely problems – though the FHFA does not seem to address that in their lawsuit.

With respect to ACE2007-HE4, the FHFA highlights an investigation by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which found that Deutsche Bank “‘continued to refer customers to its prospectus materials to the erroneous [delinquency] data’”even after it ‘became aware that the static pool information underreported historical delinquency rates.”

The verbiage within the July 16, 2010 FINRA action is more succinct: “… investors in these 16 subsequent RMBS securitizations were, and continue to be, unaware that some of the static pool information .. contains inaccurate historical data which underreported delinquencies.” FINRA allowed Deutsche Bank to pay a $7.5 million fine without either admitting or denying the findings, and agreed never to bring another action “based on the same factual findings described herein.”

Despite the finding and the fine, FINRA apparently forgot to order Deutsche Bank to knock off the conduct, and since FINRA did not reserve the right to circle back for a compliance check maybe Deutsche Bank has the right to produce loss reports showing whatever they wish to.

It is unlikely that Deutsche Bank had trouble paying their $7.5 million fine since the trust included an interest swap agreement that worked out pretty well for them. Note that these swap agreements were a common feature of post 2004 RMBS. Originators used to retain the equity tranche, which was unrated. When a deal worked out, that was nicely profitable because the equity tranche would get the benefit of loss cushions (overcollateralization and excess spread). Deal packagers got clever and devised so-called “net interest margin” bonds which allowed investors to get the benefit of the entire excess spread for a loan pool. The swaps were structured to provide a minimum amount of excess spread under the most likely scenarios. But no one anticipated 0% interest rates.

From May, 2007, when the trust was issued, to Oct., 2007, neither party paid one another. In Nov., 2007, Deutsche Bank paid the trust $175,759.04. Over the next 53 months that the swap agreement remained in effect the trust paid Deutsche Bank $65,122,194.92, a net profit of $64,946,435.88. Given that Deutsche traders were handing out t-shirts reading “I’m Short Your House” when this trust was created, I can see why they’d bet against steep interest rates over the next five years, as the Federal Reserve moved to mitigate the economic fallout of their mischievousness with low interest rates.

In any event, getting back to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (the FHFA does not disclose which), one of the GSEs purchased $224,129,000 of tranche A1 at par; they paid full freight for this fiasco. Since this trust is structured so that losses are born equally by all A-level tranches once the mezzanine level tranches are destroyed by losses, which they have been, to find the party taking the inflated losses you just need to look in the nearest mirror. Fannie and Freddie are, of course, wards of the state so it is the American taxpayer that gets to pay out the windfall to the Germans. In this we’re like Greece, albeit with lousier beaches and the ability to print more money.

If the mess with the FHFA and FINRA were not enough, ACE2007-HE4 is also an element in the second 2007 Markit index, ABX.HE.AAA.07-2, a basket of tranches of subprime trusts that – taken as a whole – show the overall health of all similar securities. This is akin to being one of the Dow-Jones companies, where a company has its own stock price but that price also affects an overall index that people place bets on. Tranche A-2D, the lowest A-tranche, is one of the twenty trusts in the index. Since ACE2007-HE4 is structured so that all A-tranches wither and die together once the mezzanine level tranches are destroyed it has the potential to weigh in on the rest of the index. Therefore, the reporting mess – already known to both the FHFA and FINRA – stands to be greatly magnified.

The problems with this trust are numerous, and at every turn, the parties that could have intervened to ameliorate the situation failed to take adequate measures.

First there is the botched securitization, where a first and second lien ended up in the same trust. Then, there is failure to engage in loss mitigation, with the result that refusing to accept the Guerrero’s short-sale offers or pleas for a modification, resulting in a more than 100% loss. Next, there is defective record-keeping related to that deficiency and others like it. And the bad practices ensnarled Fannie /Freddie when they purchased almost a quarter billion dollars of exposure to these loans. Then there’s the mismanaged prosecution by FINRA, where they did not require ongoing compliance, monitoring, or increasing fines for non-compliance. There’s the muffed FHFA lawsuit, where the FHFA did not notice either the depth of the fraud, namely two loans for the same property in the same trust, and that the reporting fraud they cited continues. I’m not sure if the swap agreement was botched, but you’d think FINRA and the FHFA would and should do almost anything to dissolve it while it was paying out massive checks every month. Finally, returning full circle, there’s the fouled up foreclosure that the borrowers fought only because negotiations failed that resulted in a the trust taking a total loss on the mortgage plus paying serious legal fees.

It is an understatement to say this does not inspire confidence in any public official, except Judge Williams, the only government official with the common sense to lose patience with scoundrels. We’d almost be better off without regulators than with the batch we’ve seen at work.

US taxpayers would have received more benefit by burning dollar bills in the Capitol’s furnace to heat the building than we received from bailing out Fannie, Freddie, Deutsche Bank, Ocwen, and the various other smaller leaches attached to the udder of public funds. We could and should have allowed the “free market” they worship to work its magic, sending them to their doom years ago. That would have left investors in a world-o-hurt but, in hindsight, that’s where they’re ending up anyway with no money left to fix the fallout. It is long past time public policy makers did something substantive to rein in these charlatans.

My six year-old daughter understands the concept of limiting losses to the minimum, and apportionment of those losses in the name of fairness. Maybe Tim Geithner should take a lesson from her about this “unfortunate” series of events, quoting Judge Williams, before wasting any more money that my daughter will eventually have to repay.

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Editor’s Comment: 

Thanks to Home Preservation Network for alerting us to John Griffith’s Statement before the Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives.  See his statement below.  

People who know the systemic flaws caused by Wall Street are getting closer to the microphone. The Banks are hoping it is too late — but I don’t think we are even close to the point where the blame shifts solidly to their illegal activities. The testimony is clear, well-balanced, and based on facts. 

On the high costs of foreclosure John Griffith proves the point that there is an “invisible hand” pushing homes into foreclosure when they should be settled modified under HAMP. There can be no doubt nor any need for interpretation — even the smiliest analysis shows that investors would be better off accepting modification proposals to a huge degree. Yet most people, especially those that fail to add tacit procuration language in their proposal and who fail to include an economic analysis, submit proposals that provide proceeds to investors that are at least 50% higher than the projected return from foreclosure. And that is the most liberal estimate. Think about all those tens of thousands of homes being bull-dozed. What return did the investor get on those?

That is why we now include a HAMP analysis in support of proposals as part of our forensic analysis. We were given the idea by Martin Andelman (Mandelman Matters). When we performed the analysis the results were startling and clearly showed, as some judges around the country have pointed out, that the HAMP loan modification proposals were NOT considered. In those cases where the burden if proof was placed on the pretender lender, it was clear that they never had any intention other than foreclosure. Upon findings like that, the cases settled just like every case where the pretender loses the battle on discovery.

Despite clear predictions of increased strategic defaults based upon data that shows that strategic defaults are increasing at an exponential level, the Bank narrative is that if they let homeowners modify mortgages, it will hurt the Market and encourage more deadbeats to do the same. The risk of strategic defaults comes not from people delinquent in their payments but from businesspeople who look at the principal due, see no hope that the value of the home will rise substantially for decades, and see that the home is worth less than half the mortgage claimed. No reasonable business person would maintain the status quo. 

The case for principal reductions (corrections) is made clear by the one simple fact that the homes are not worth and never were worth the value of the used in true loans. The failure of the financial industry to perform simple, long-standing underwriting duties — like verifying the value of the collateral created a risk for the “lenders” (whoever they are) that did not exist and was present without any input from the borrower who was relying on the same appraisals that the Banks intentionally cooked up so they could move the money and earn their fees.

Many people are suggesting paths forward. Those that are serious and not just positioning in an election year, recognize that the station becomes more muddled each day, the false foreclosures on fatally defective documents must stop, but that the buying and selling and refinancing of properties presents still more problems and risks. In the end the solution must hold the perpetrators to account and deliver relief to homeowners who have an opportunity to maintain possession and ownership of their homes and who may have the right to recapture fraudulently foreclosed homes with illegal evictions. The homes have been stolen. It is time to catch the thief, return the purse and seize the property of the thief to recapture ill-gotten gains.

Statement of John Griffith Policy Analyst Center for American Progress Action Fund

Before

The Congressional Progressive Caucus U.S. House of Representatives

Hearing On

Turning the Tide: Preventing More Foreclosures and Holding Wrong-Doers Accountable

Good afternoon Co-Chairman Grijalva, Co-Chairman Ellison, and members of the caucus. I am John Griffith, an Economic Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, where my work focuses on housing policy.

It is an honor to be here today to discuss ways to soften the blow of the ongoing foreclosure crisis. It’s clear that lenders, investors, and policymakers—particularly the government-controlled mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac—must do all they can to avoid another wave of costly and economy-crushing foreclosures. Today I will discuss why principal reduction—lowering the amount the borrower actually owes on a loan in exchange for a higher likelihood of repayment—is a critical tool in that effort.

Specifically, I will discuss the following:

1      First, the high cost of foreclosure. Foreclosure is typically the worst outcome for every party involved, since it results in extraordinarily high costs to borrowers, lenders, and investors, not to mention the carry-on effects for the surrounding community.

2      Second, the economic case for principal reduction. Research shows that equity is an important predictor of default. Since principal reduction is the only way to permanently improve a struggling borrower’s equity position, it is often the most effective way to help a deeply underwater borrower avoid foreclosure.

3      Third, the business case for Fannie and Freddie to embrace principal reduction. By refusing to offer write-downs on the loans they own or guarantee, Fannie, Freddie, and their regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, or FHFA, are significantly lagging behind the private sector. And FHFA’s own analysis shows that it can be a money-saver: Principal reductions would save the enterprises about $10 billion compared to doing nothing, and $1.7 billion compared to alternative foreclosure mitigation tools, according to data released earlier this month.

4      Fourth, a possible path forward. In a recent report my former colleague Jordan Eizenga and I propose a principal-reduction pilot at Fannie and Freddie that focuses on deeply underwater borrowers facing long-term economic hardships. The pilot would include special rules to maximize returns to Fannie, Freddie, and the taxpayers supporting them without creating skewed incentives for borrowers.

Fifth, a bit of perspective. To adequately meet the challenge before us, any principal-reduction initiative must be part of a multipronged

To read John Griffith’s entire testimony go to: www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2012/04/pdf/griffith_testimony.pdf


EFFECTIVE USE OF WHAT THE MORTGAGE GIANTS SAY ABOUT EACH OTHER

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The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) filed suit against 17 lead defendants. Lawyers and pro se litigants and anyone with a mortgage subject to a possible claim that the loan was securitized should be interested and follow the allegations AND the wrangling over discovery. There are forms in there that can and should be used by litigants. When counsel for pretender lenders proffers facts not in evidence then your objection should be coupled with “that’s not what they said when they were litigating with FHFA.” And then quote what they DID say in writing versus the oral proffers of counsel who can later say he was “mistaken.”
Complaints have been filed against the following lead defendants:

  1. Ally Financial Inc. f/k/a GMAC, LLC
  2. Bank of America Corporation
  3. Barclays Bank PLC
  4. Citigroup, Inc.
  5. Countrywide Financial Corporation
  6. Credit Suisse Holdings (USA), Inc.
  7. Deutsche Bank AG
  8. First Horizon National Corporation
  9. General Electric Company
  10. Goldman Sachs & Co.
  11. HSBC North America Holdings, Inc.
  12. JPMorgan Chase & Co.
  13. Merrill Lynch & Co. / First Franklin Financial Corp.
  14. Morgan Stanley
  15. Nomura Holding America Inc.
  16. The Royal Bank of Scotland Group PLC
  17. Société Générale

The following Reports to the Congress from the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) present the findings of the agency’s annual examinations of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (Enterprises), the 12 Federal Home Loan Banks (FHLBanks), and the Office of Finance. This report meets the statutory requirements of the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992, as amended by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA).  The views in this report are those of FHFA and do not necessarily represent those of the President.

To request hard copies of FHFA Reports to Congress, contact: FHFA’s Office of Congressional Affairs and Communications
Phone: (202) 414-6922 or send e-mail to:   FHFAinfo@FHFA.gov

 

FRAUD: The Significance of the Game Changing FHFA Lawsuits

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FHFA ACCUSES BANKS OF FRAUD: THEY KNEW THEY WERE LYING

“FHFA has refrained from sugar coating the banks’ alleged conduct as mere inadvertence, negligence, or recklessness, as many plaintiffs have done thus far.  Instead, it has come right out and accused certain banks of out-and-out fraud.  In particular, FHFA has levied fraud claims against Countrywide (and BofA as successor-in-interest), Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan (including EMC, WaMu and Long Beach), Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch (including First Franklin as sponsor), and Morgan Stanley (including Credit Suisse as co-lead underwriter).  Besides showing that FHFA means business, these claims demonstrate that the agency has carefully reviewed the evidence before it and only wielded the sword of fraud against those banks that it felt actually were aware of their misrepresentations.”

It is no stretch to say that Friday, September 2 was the most significant day for mortgage crisis litigation since the onset of the crisis in 2007.  That Friday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), as conservator for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, sued almost all of the world’s largest banks in 17 separate lawsuits, covering mortgage backed securities with original principal balances of roughly $200 billion.  Unless you’ve been hiking in the Andes over the last two weeks, you have probably heard about these suits in the mainstream media.  But here at the Subprime Shakeout, I like to dig a bit deeper.  The following is my take on the most interesting aspects of these voluminous complaints (all available here) from a mortgage litigation perspective.

Throwing the Book at U.S. Banks

The first thing that jumps out to me is the tenacity and aggressiveness with which FHFA presents its cases.  In my last post (Number 1 development), I noted that FHFA had just sued UBS over $4.5 billion in MBS.  While I noted that this signaled a shift in Washington’s “too-big-to-fail” attitude towards banks, my biggest question was whether the agency would show the same tenacity in going after major U.S. banks.  Well, it’s safe to say the agency has shown the same tenacity and then some.

FHFA has refrained from sugar coating the banks’ alleged conduct as mere inadvertence, negligence, or recklessness, as many plaintiffs have done thus far.  Instead, it has come right out and accused certain banks of out-and-out fraud.  In particular, FHFA has levied fraud claims against Countrywide (and BofA as successor-in-interest), Deutsche Bank, J.P. Morgan (including EMC, WaMu and Long Beach), Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch (including First Franklin as sponsor), and Morgan Stanley (including Credit Suisse as co-lead underwriter).  Besides showing that FHFA means business, these claims demonstrate that the agency has carefully reviewed the evidence before it and only wielded the sword of fraud against those banks that it felt actually were aware of their misrepresentations.

Further, FHFA has essentially used every bit of evidence at its disposal to paint an exhaustive picture of reckless lending and misleading conduct by the banks.  To support its claims, FHFA has drawn from such diverse sources as its own loan reviews, investigations by the SEC, congressional testimony, and the evidence presented in other lawsuits (including the bond insurer suits that were also brought by Quinn Emanuel).  Finally, where appropriate, FHFA has included successor-in-interest claims against banks such as Bank of America (as successor to Countrywide but, interestingly, not to Merrill Lynch) and J.P. Morgan (as successor to Bear Stearns and WaMu), which acquired potential liability based on its acquisition of other lenders or issuers and which have tried and may in the future try to avoid accepting those liabilities.    In short, FHFA has thrown the book at many of the nation’s largest banks.

FHFA has also taken the virtually unprecedented step of issuing a second press release after the filing of its lawsuits, in which it responds to the “media coverage” the suits have garnered.  In particular, FHFA seeks to dispel the notion that the sophistication of the investor has any bearing on the outcome of securities law claims – something that spokespersons for defendant banks have frequently argued in public statements about MBS lawsuits.  I tend to agree that this factor is not something that courts should or will take into account under the express language of the securities laws.

The agency’s press release also responds to suggestions that these suits will destabilize banks and disrupt economic recovery.  To this, FHFA responds, “the long-term stability and resilience of the nation’s financial system depends on investors being able to trust that the securities sold in this country adhere to applicable laws. We cannot overlook compliance with such requirements during periods of economic difficulty as they form the foundation for our nation’s financial system.”  Amen.

This response to the destabilization argument mirrors statements made by Rep. Brad Miller (D-N.C.), both in a letter urging these suits before they were filed and in a conference call praising the suits after their filing.  In particular, Miller has said that failing to pursue these claims would be “tantamount to another bailout” and akin to an “indirect subsidy” to the banking industry.  I agree with these statements – of paramount importance in restarting the U.S. housing market is restoring investor confidence, and this means respecting contract rights and the rule of law.   If investors are stuck with a bill for which they did not bargain, they will be reluctant to invest in U.S. housing securities in the future, increasing the costs of homeownership for prospective homeowners and/or taxpayers.

You can find my recent analysis of Rep. Miller’s initial letter to FHFA here under Challenge No. 3.  The letter, which was sent in response to the proposed BofA/BoNY settlement of Countrywide put-back claims, appears to have had some influence.

Are Securities Claims the New Put-Backs?

The second thing that jumps out to me about these suits is that FHFA has entirely eschewed put-backs, or contractual claims, in favor of securities law, blue sky law, and tort claims.  This continues a trend that began with the FHLB lawsuits and continued through the recent filing by AIG of its $10 billion lawsuit against BofA/Countrywide of plaintiffs focusing on securities law claims when available.  Why are plaintiffs such as FHFA increasingly turning to securities law claims when put-backs would seem to benefit from more concrete evidence of liability?

One reason may be the procedural hurdles that investors face when pursuing rep and warranty put-backs or repurchases.  In general, they must have 25% of the voting rights for each deal on which they want to take action.  If they don’t have those rights on their own, they must band together with other bondholders to reach critical mass.  They must then petition the Trustee to take action.  If the Trustee refuses to help, the investor may then present repurchase demands on individual loans to the originator or issuer, but must provide that party with sufficient time to cure the defect or repurchase each loan before taking action.  Only if the investor overcomes these steps and the breaching party fails to cure or repurchase will the investor finally have standing to sue.

All of those steps notwithstanding, I have long argued that put-back claims are strong and valuable because once you overcome the initial procedural hurdles, it is a fairly straightforward task to prove whether an individual loan met or breached the proper underwriting guidelines and representations.  Recent statistical sampling rulings have also provided investors with a shortcut to establishing liability – instead of having to go loan-by-loan to prove that each challenged loan breached reps and warranties, investors may now use a statistically significant sample to establish the breach rate in an entire pool.

So, what led FHFA to abandon the put-back route in favor of filing securities law claims?  For one, the agency may not have 25% of the voting rights in all or even a majority of the deals in which it holds an interest.  And due to the unique status of the agency as conservator and the complex politics surrounding these lawsuits, it may not have wanted to band together with private investors to pursue its claims.

Another reason may be that the FHFA has had trouble obtaining loan files, as has been the case for many investors.  These files are usually necessary before even starting down the procedural path outlined above, and servicers have thus far been reluctant to turn these files over to investors.  But this is even less likely to be the limiting factor for FHFA.  With subpoena power that extends above and beyond that of the ordinary investor, the government agency may go directly to the servicers and demand these critical documents.  This they’ve already done, having sent 64 subpoenas to various market participants over a year ago.  While it’s not clear how much cooperation FHFA has received in this regard, the numerous references in its complaints to loan level reviews suggest that the agency has obtained a large number of loan files.  In fact, FHFA has stated that these lawsuits were the product of the subpoenas, so they must have uncovered a fair amount of valuable information.

Thus, the most likely reason for this shift in strategy is the advantage offered by the federal securities laws in terms of the available remedies.  With the put-back remedy, monetary damages are not available.  Instead, most Pooling and Servicing Agreements (PSAs) stipulate that the sole remedy for an incurable breach of reps and warranties is the repurchase or substitution of that defective loan.  Thus, any money shelled out by offending banks would flow into the Trust waterfall, to be divided amongst the bondholders based on seniority, rather than directly into the coffers of FHFA (and taxpayers).  Further, a plaintiff can only receive this remedy on the portion of loans it proves to be defective.  Thus, it cannot recover its losses on defaulted loans for which no defect can be shown.

In contrast, the securities law remedy provides the opportunity for a much broader recovery – and one that goes exclusively to the plaintiff (thus removing any potential freerider problems).  Should FHFA be able to prove that there was a material misrepresentation in a particular oral statement, offering document, or registration statement issued in connection with a Trust, it may be able to recover all of its losses on securities from that Trust.  Since a misrepresentation as to one Trust was likely repeated as to all of an issuers’ MBS offerings, that one misrepresentation can entitle FHFA to recover all of its losses on all certificates issued by that particular issuer.

The defendant may, however, reduce those damages by the amount of any loss that it can prove was caused by some factor other than its misrepresentation, but the burden of proof for this loss causation defense is on the defendant.  It is much more difficult for the defendant to prove that a loss was caused by some factor apart from its misrepresentation than to argue that the plaintiff hasn’t adequately proved causation, as it can with most tort claims.

Finally, any recovery is paid directly to the bondholder and not into the credit waterfall, meaning that it is not shared with other investors and not impacted by the class of certificate held by that bondholder.  This aspect alone makes these claims far more attractive for the party funding the litigation.  Though FHFA has not said exactly how much of the $200 billion in original principal balance of these notes it is seeking in its suits, one broker-dealer’s analysis has reached a best case scenario for FHFA of $60 billion flowing directly into its pockets.

There are other reasons, of course, that FHFA may have chosen this strategy.  Though the remedy appears to be the most important factor, securities law claims are also attractive because they may not require the plaintiff to present an in-depth review of loan-level information.  Such evidence would certainly bolster FHFA’s claims of misrepresentations with respect to loan-level representations in the offering materials (for example, as to LTV, owner occupancy or underwriting guidelines), but other claims may not require such proof.  For example, FHFA may be able to make out its claim that the ratings provided in the prospectus were misrepresented simply by showing that the issuer provided rating agencies with false data or did not provide rating agencies with its due diligence reports showing problems with the loans.  One state law judge has already bought this argument in an early securities law suit by the FHLB of Pittsburgh.  Being able to make out these claims without loan-level data reduces the plaintiff’s burden significantly.

Finally, keep in mind that simply because FHFA did not allege put-back claims does not foreclose it from doing so down the road.  Much as Ambac amended its complaint to include fraud claims against JP Morgan and EMC, FHFA could amend its claims later to include causes of action for contractual breach.  FHFA’s initial complaints were apparently filed at this time to ensure that they fell within the shorter statute of limitations for securities law and tort claims.  Contractual claims tend to have a longer statute of limitations and can be brought down the road without fear of them being time-barred (see interesting Subprime Shakeout guest post on statute of limitations concerns.

Predictions

Since everyone is eager to hear how all this will play out, I will leave you with a few predictions.  First, as I’ve predicted in the past, the involvement of the U.S. Government in mortgage litigation will certainly embolden other private litigants to file suit, both by providing political cover and by providing plaintiffs with a roadmap to recovery.  It also may spark shareholder suits based on the drop in stock prices suffered by many of these banks after statements in the media downplaying their mortgage exposure.

Second, as to these particular suits, many of the defendants likely will seek to escape the harsh glare of the litigation spotlight by settling quickly, especially if they have relatively little at stake (the one exception may be GE, which has stated that it will vigorously oppose the suit, though this may be little more than posturing).  The FHFA, in turn, is likely also eager to get some of these suits settled quickly, both so that it can show that the suits have merit with benchmark settlements and also so that it does not have to fight legal battles on 18 fronts simultaneously.  It will likely be willing to offer defendants a substantial discount against potential damages if they come to the table in short order.

Meanwhile, the banks with larger liability and a more precarious capital situation will be forced to fight these suits and hope to win some early battles to reduce the cost of settlement.  Due to the plaintiff-friendly nature of these claims, I doubt many will succeed in winning motions to dismiss that dispose entirely of any case, but they may obtain favorable evidentiary rulings or dismissals on successor-in-interest claims.  Still, they may not be able to settle quickly because the price tag, even with a substantial discount, will be too high.

On the other hand, trial on these cases would be a publicity nightmare for the big banks, not to mention putting them at risk a massive financial wallop from the jury (fraud claims carry with them the potential for punitive damages).  Thus, these cases will likely end up settling at some point down the road.  Whether that’s one year or four years from now is hard to say, but from what I’ve seen in mortgage litigation, I’d err on the side of assuming a longer time horizon for the largest banks with the most at stake.

Article taken from The Subprime Shakeout – www.subprimeshakeout.com
URL to article: the-government-giveth-and-it-taketh-away-the-significance-of-the-game-changing-fhfa-lawsuits.html

MERS: A FAILED ATTEMPT AT BYPASSING STATE AND FEDERAL AUTHORITY

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Fannie-Freddie’s Hypocritical Suit Against Banks Making Loans that GSEs Helped Create

Fannie-Freddie’s Hypocritical Suit Against Banks Making Loans that GSEs Helped Create

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Practically everything that the government is doing with respect to the economy and the housing market in particular is hypocritical. If we look to the result to determine the intent of the government you can see why nothing is being done to improve DOMESTIC market conditions. By removing the American consumer from the marketplace (through elimination of available funds in equity, savings or credit) the economic prospects for virtually every marketplace in the world is correspondingly diminished. The downward pressure on economic performance worldwide creates a panic regarding debt and currency. By default (and partially because of the military strength of the United States) people are ironically finding the dollar to be the safest haven during a bad storm.

 The result is that the federal government is able to borrow funds at interest rates that are so low that the investor is guaranteed to lose money after adjusting for inflation. The climate that has been created is one in which investors are far more concerned with preservation of capital than return on capital. In a nutshell, this is why the credit markets are virtually frozen with respect to the average potential consumer, the average small business owner, and the average entrepreneur or innovator who would otherwise start a new business and fuel rising employment.

 While it is true that the lawsuits by Fannie and Freddie are appropriate regardless of their past hypocritical behavior, they are really only rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Ultimately there must be a resolution to our current economic problems that is based in reality rather than the power to manipulate events. The scenario we all seek  would cleanup the rising title crisis, end the foreclosure crisis, and restore a true marketplace in the purchase and sale of real estate. We have all known for decades that the housing market drives the economy.

 There is obviously very little confidence that the government and market makers in the United States are going to seek any resolution based in reality. Therefore while investors are parking their money in dollars they are also driving up the price of gold and finding other innovative ways to preserve their wealth. As these innovations evolve it is almost certain that an alternative to the United States dollar will emerge. The driving force behind this innovation is the stagnation of the credit markets and the world marketplace. My opinion is that the United States is pursuing a policy that virtually guarantees the creation of a new world reserve currency.

 The creation of MERS was a private attempt to substitute private business plans for public laws. It didn’t work. The lawsuits by the government-sponsored entities together with lawsuits from investors who were duped into being lenders and homeowners who were duped into being borrowers in a rigged market are only going to result in money judgments and money settlements. With a nominal value of credit derivatives at over $600 trillion and the actual money supply at under $50 trillion there is literally not enough money in the world to fix this problem. The problem can only be fixed by recognizing and applying existing law to existing transactions.

 This means that MERS, already discredited, must be treated as a nonexistent entity in the world of real estate transactions. Nobody wants to do that because the failure to disclose an actual creditor on the face of a purported lean or encumbrance on land is a fatal defect in perfecting the lien. This is true throughout the country and it is obvious to anyone who has studied real property transactions and mortgages. If you don’t have the name and address of the creditor from whom you can obtain a satisfaction of mortgage, then you don’t have a mortgage that attaches to the land as a lien. It is this realization that is forming a number of lawsuits from the investors who advanced money for mortgage bonds. Those advances were the funds that were used to finance pornographic Wall Street profits with the balance used to fund absurd mortgage products.

 This is basic property law and public policy. There can be no confidence or consistency in the marketplace without a buyer or a lender knowing that they can rely upon the information contained in a government title Registry at the county recording office. Any other method requires them to take the word of someone without the authority of the government. This is a fact and it is the law. But the banks are successfully using politics to sidestep the basic essential elements of law. Under their theory the fact that the mortgage lien was never perfected would be ignored so that bank and non-bank institutions could become the largest landholders in the country without ever having spent a dime on loaning any money or purchasing the receivables. Politics is trumping law.

 The narrative and the debate are being absolutely controlled by Wall Street interests. We say we don’t like what the banks did and many say they don’t like banks at all. But it is also true that the same people who say they don’t like banks are willing to let the banks keep their windfall and make even more money at the expense of the taxpayer, the consumer and the homeowner. There are trillions of dollars available for investment in business expansion, government projects, and good old American innovation to drive a healthy economy. It won’t happen until we begin to drive the debate ourselves and force government and banking to conform to rules and laws that have been in existence for centuries.

from STOP FORECLOSURE FRAUD…………….

Lets NOT forget both Fannie and Freddie, like most of the named banks they are suing, each are shareholders of MERS.

Again, who gave the green light to eliminate the need for assignments and to realize the greatest savings, lenders should close loans using standard security instruments containing “MOM” language back in April 26, 1999?

This was approved by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac which named MERS as Original Mortgagee (MOM)!

Open Market-

“U.S. is set to sue dozen big banks over mortgages,” reads the front-page headline in today’s New York Times. The “deck” below the headline explains that that the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is “seen as arguing that lenders lacked due diligence” in the loans they made.

A more apt description would probably be that Fannie and Freddie are suing the banks for selling them the very loans the GSEs helped designed and that government mandates encourage — and are still encouraging them to make. These conflicted actions are just one more of the government’s contributions to the uncertainty that is helping to keep unemployment at 9 percent.

Strangely the author of the Times piece, Nelson Schwartz, ignores the findings of a recent blockbuster

[OPEN MARKET]

WRONG WAY FHFA

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EDITOR’S NOTE; THE FOCUS CONTINUES TO BE IMPROPERLY DIRECTED TOWARD SPEED RATHER THAN ACCURACY. COMPLETELY ABSENT IS A REPORT OF DUE DILIGENCE, THE AUTHOR OF THE REPORT, THE SIGNATURE OF SOMEONE, AND THE A COPY OF THE REPORT SO THE REPORT CAN BE CHALLENGED IF NECESSARY. THE CONTENT OF THE REVIEW IS NOT SPECIFIED, BUT ONLY THAT THERE BE A REVIEW.

IT LEAVES TO THE SOLE DISCRETION OF THE PARTY CLAIMING TO BE AUTHORIZED TO BE FORECLOSED, WHETHER THEY ARE IN FACT AUTHORIZED, AND WHETHER THE PAPERS ARE IN ORDER. THIS CREATES A WHOLLY UNWARRANTED PRESUMPTION THAT ONCE SUCH A REVIEW IS COMPLETED, THE FORECLOSURES CAN AND SHOULD PROCEED BECAUSE THE FORECLOSING PARTY SAYS SO. THIS IS 180 DEGREES CONTRARY TO THE DIRECTION THAT SHOULD BE TAKEN. NOW THE FHFA IS TAKING ON A JUDICIAL FUNCTION AND PRESUMING THAT IT IS ONLY THE PAPERWORK THAT IS FAULTY, NOT THE LOAN.

Statement By FHFA Acting Director Edward J. DeMarco On Servicer  Financial Affidavit Issues

“On October 1, FHFA announced that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are working  with their respective servicers to identify foreclosure process deficiencies  and that where deficiencies are identified, will work together with FHFA to  develop a consistent approach to address the problems. Since then, additional  mortgage servicers have disclosed shortcomings in their processes and public  concern has increased.

Today, I am directing the Enterprises to implement a four-point policy  framework detailing FHFA’s plan, including guidance for consistent remediation  of identified foreclosure process deficiencies. This framework envisions an  orderly and expeditious resolution of foreclosure process issues that will  provide greater certainty to homeowners, lenders, investors, and communities  alike.

In developing this framework, FHFA has benefitted from close consultation  with the Administration and other federal financial regulators.

The country’s housing finance system remains fragile and I intend to  maintain our focus on addressing this issue in a manner that is fair to  delinquent households, but also fair to servicers, mortgage investors,  neighborhoods and most of all, is in the best interest of  taxpayers

Four-Point Policy Framework  For Dealing with Possible Foreclosure Process Deficiencies

1. Verify Process — Mortgage  servicers must review their processes and procedures and verify that all  documents, including affidavits and verifications, are completed in compliance  with legal requirements. Requests for such reviews have already been made by  FHFA, the Enterprises, the Federal Housing Administration, and the Office of  the Comptroller of the Currency, among others. In the event a servicer’s  review reveals deficiencies, the servicer must take immediate corrective  action as described below.

2. Remediate Actual Problems — When a servicer identifies a foreclosure process deficiency, it must be  remediated in an appropriate and timely way and be sustainable. In particular,  when a servicer identifies shortcomings with foreclosure affidavits, whether  due to affidavits signed without appropriate knowledge and review of the  documents, or improperly notarized, the following steps should be taken, as  appropriate to the particular mortgage:

a. Pre-judgment  foreclosure actions: Servicers must review any filed affidavits to ensure  that the information contained in the affidavits was correct and that the  affidavits were completed in compliance with applicable law. If the servicer’s  review indicates either (a) that the information in a previously filed  affidavit was not correct or (b) that the affidavit was not completed in  compliance with applicable law, the  servicer must work with foreclosure counsel to take appropriate  remedial actions, which may include preparing and filing a properly prepared  and executed replacement affidavit before proceeding to judgment.

b. Post-judgment  foreclosure actions (prior to foreclosure sale): Before a foreclosure sale  can proceed, servicers must review any affidavits relied upon in the  proceedings to ensure that the information contained in the affidavits was  correct and that the affidavits were completed in compliance with applicable  law. If the servicer’s review indicates either (a) that the information in a  previously filed affidavit was not correct or (b) that the affidavit was not  completed in compliance with applicable law, the servicer must work with foreclosure  counsel to address the issue consistent with local  procedures. Potential remedial measures could include filing an  appropriate motion to substitute a properly completed replacement affidavit  with the court and to ratify or amend the foreclosure judgment.

ci. Post-foreclosure sale (Enterprise owns the property): Eviction actions:  Before an eviction can proceed, servicers with deficiencies must confirm that  the information contained in any affidavits relied upon in the foreclosure  proceeding was correct and that the affidavits were completed in compliance  with applicable law. If the servicer’s review indicates either (a) that the  information in a previously filed affidavit was not correct or (b) that the  affidavit was not completed in compliance with applicable law, the servicer must work with foreclosure  counsel to address the issue consistent with local procedures before the  eviction proceeds. Potential remedial measures could include seeking an order  to substitute a properly prepared affidavit and to ratify the foreclosure  judgment and/or confirm the foreclosure sale.

cii, Real  Estate Owned (REO): With respect to the clearing of title for REO  properties, servicers must confirm that the information contained in any  affidavits relied upon in the foreclosure proceeding was correct and that the  affidavits were completed in compliance with applicable law. If the servicer’s  review indicates either (a) that the information in a previously filed  affidavit was not correct or (b) that the affidavit was not completed in  compliance with applicable law, the  servicer must work with foreclosure counsel to address the issue  consistent with local procedures and take actions as may be required to ensure  that title insurance is available to the purchaser for the subject property in  light of the facts surrounding the foreclosure actions.

d. Bankruptcy  Cases: Servicers must review any filed affidavits in pending cases to  ensure that the information contained in the affidavits was correct and that  the affidavits were completed in compliance with applicable law. If the  servicer’s review indicates either (a) that the information in a previously  filed affidavit was not correct or (b) that the affidavit was not completed in  compliance with applicable law, the  servicer must work with bankruptcy counsel to take appropriate remedial  actions.

3.  Refer Suspicion of Fraudulent Activity — Servicers are reminded that  in any foreclosure processing situation involving possible fraudulent  activity, they should meet applicable legal reporting obligations.

4. Avoid Delay — In the absence of identified process  problems, foreclosures on mortgages for which the borrower has stopped  payment, and for which foreclosure alternatives have been unsuccessful, should  proceed without delay. Delays  in foreclosures add cost and other burdens for communities, investors, and  taxpayers. For Enterprise loans, delay means that taxpayers must continue to  support the Enterprises’ financing of mortgages without the benefit of payment  and neighborhoods are left with more vacant properties. Therefore, a servicer that has identified  no deficiencies in its foreclosure processes should not postpone its  foreclosure activities.

FHFA will provide additional guidance should it become necessary.

————————————-

Notice I called attention to the phrase “the servicer must work with  counsel”. I am not sure if this guidance was intended to be a  solution or not.  If it was, it seems like the borrowers who have claimed  to be victims of  “robosigning” will still need to be dealt with  individually, on a case by case basis, which tells me only time will heal this  problem.  It also means borrowers must be willing to work with servicers.  This is a technicality that can be corrected if all parties involved are  willing to play ball. Unfortunately common sense tells me that borrowers will  not give in without a fight.

The FHFA made the consequences clear/guilt tripped all the robosigned  folks…

“Delays in foreclosures add cost and  other burdens for communities, investors, and taxpayers. For Enterprise loans,  delay means that taxpayers must continue to support the Enterprises’ financing  of mortgages without the benefit of payment and neighborhoods are left with  more vacant properties. Therefore, a  servicer that has identified no deficiencies in its foreclosure processes  should not postpone its foreclosure activities.”

Foreclosures should go as scheduled if the servicer has all their ducks in  a row. Lets get on with the correction process already….

(View  More <http://www.mortgagenewsdaily.com/10132010_robosigning_fhfa_fix.asp> )

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