Applying Common Sense and Law to Assignments of Mortgage

Every time a homeowner wins in foreclosure the investors are actually protected. It’s the sale of the property and/or entry of the foreclosure judgment that cuts investors off from their investment. Weird, right?

An article in the recently published Florida Bar Journal illustrates perfectly the confusion that occurs within the courts and by lawyers when they stray from the simple pronouncement of accepted law in all jurisdictions.

Here is one simple proposition declared by the Florida Supreme Court which is a mirror of similar pronouncements from the Highest courts in all other U.S. Jurisdictions: The case is Johns v Gillian 134 Fla. 575, 184 So. 140 (1938).

“the mere delivery of the note and mortgage, with intention to pass title, upon proper consideration, will vest the equitable interest in the person to whom it is so delivered.”

The obvious implication is that such a person can enforce the mortgage. The other obvious implication is that a claimant who claims to have received possession by delivery of the note and mortgage cannot enforce the mortgage if there was no intent to transfer title to the mortgage, or if there was no payment of consideration.

The obvious takeaways from this simple, basic and completely accepted point of law are

  • delivery of note and mortgage is important and potentially dispositive BUT
  • defects in the instrument of assignment of mortgage are not fatal IF
  • intention to pass title is present AND
  • payment of proper consideration is present
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The jumble occurs when anyone of those points is taken out of order or entirely out of consideration which is what the courts and even some foreclosure defense lawyers are missing.

Delivery of the original note and the recorded mortgage document is important and potentially dispositive. This is true if proper consideration was paid and there was an intent to pass title.

But the banks would have us believe that only the intent to pass title is important, even if the transferor has no title. There is no law and no case decision that agrees with that proposition. And the banks would have us believe that the intent to pass title is the only thing that matters even if no proper consideration was paid. There is no law and no case decision that supports that proposition.

By law, as adopted in the statutes of all 50 states when they adopted the Uniform Commercial Code, consideration must be paid for an effective transfer of the mortgage.  UCC Article 9 section 203. All the case law agrees and there is no case law contrary to that proposition.

BUT there is plenty of case law where the courts ignore it mostly because the pro se homeowners or foreclosure defense attorney didn’t present the issue clearly.

The money proves the intent and the intent justifies the money.  Without the money the transfer is a complete nullity which legally means it never happened.

While there are presumptions about transfer of the debt when the “original” note is supposedly delivered (as though transfer of the note was title to the debt), the only thing that actually transfers the debt under law is payment of money with intent to purchase and sell the debt and the mortgage.

Where’s the money?

In virtually all cases the money is absent, which leads directly to the point of the law to begin with — foreclosure should only be granted in circumstances where the proceeds of foreclosure will go to the party claiming that equitable remedy. Here is the plain truth. Those proceeds are not going to anyone who has value/consideration in the deal.

The investment bank’s legal strategy of claiming that it once paid consideration is defeated entirely by its sale of the “risk of loss” (i.e., the debt) several times over in the shadow banking market.

Dubious? Check the proposed and actual regulations concerning the retention of a share of the risk of loss by investment banks. That is the big dispute. For loans that were created up until around 2010, there was zero retention of risk.

The meaning  of that eludes most people unfamiliar with the terminology of Wall Street. So here it is: if you have no risk you own no debt.

My sources say that is still true and the regulators are powerless to stop it because of the right to enter into contracts that are disguised sales of the risk of loss, which is to say disguised sales of the debt by the one party who is always the one controlling events on the ground in foreclosures — the investment bank.

Do you need to prove all that? Nope. Just demand proof of consideration. And don’t stop demanding it no matter what the opposing lawyer says and even regardless of what the judge says. In the end, you’ll be right. Every time a homeowner wins in foreclosure the investors are actually protected. It’s the sale of the property and/or entry of the foreclosure judgment that cuts investors off from their investment.

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