The Trouble With MERS

Posted by revolt | The Trouble With MERS | Friday 20 August 2010 10:20 pm

The Trouble With MERS

September 24th, 2009

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As a homeowner begins research into the lending and foreclosure crisis, there will be many unfamiliar terms, names and companies that come to their attention. Chief among these will be MERS.

MERS is the acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems. It is a national electronic registration and tracking system that tracks the beneficial ownership interests and servicing rights in mortgage loans. The MERS website says:

“MERS is an innovative process that simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans. “

In simple language, MERS is an on-line computer software program for tracking ownership.

MERS was conceived in the early 1990’s by numerous lenders and other entities. Chief among the entities were Bank of America, Countrywide, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and a host of other such entities. The stated purpose was that the creation of MERS would lead to “consumers paying less” for mortgage loans. Obviously, that did not happen.

This article will attempt to explain MERS in very general detail. It will cover a few issues related to MERS and foreclosure, in order to introduce the reader to the issues of MERS. It is not meant to be a complete discussion of MERS, nor of the legal complexities regarding the arguments for and against MERS. For a more in depth reading of MERS and findings coming out of courts, it is recommended that the reader look at Hawkins, Case No. BK-S-07-13593-LBR (Bankr. Nev. 3/31/2009) (Bankr. Nev., 2009) . It gives a good reading of the issues related to MERS, at least for that particular case. Though in Nevada, it is relevant for California.

(Please note. I am not an attorney and am not giving legal advice. I am just reporting arguments being made against MERS, and also certain case law and applicable statutes in California.

The MERS Process

Traditionally, when a loan was executed, the beneficiary of the loan on the Deed of Trust was the lender. Once the loan was funded, the Deed of Trust and the Note would be recorded with the local County Recorder’s office. The recording of the Deed and the Note created a Public Record of the transaction. All future Assignments of the Notes and Deed of Trust were expected to be recorded as ownership changes occurred. The recording of the Assignments created a “Perfected Chain of Title” of ownership of the Note and the Deed of Trust.

This allowed interested or affected parties to be able to view the lien holders and if necessary, be able to contact the parties. The recording of the document also set the “priority” of the lien. The priority of the lien would be dependent upon the date that the recording took place. For example, a lien recorded on Jan 1, 2007 for $20,000 would be the first mortgage, and a lien recorded on Jan 2, 2007, for $1,500,000 would be a second mortgage, even though it was a higher amount.

Recordings of the document also determined who had the “beneficial interest” in the Note. An interested party simple looked at the Assignments, and knew who held the Note and who was the legal party of beneficial interest.

(For traditional lending prior to Securitization, the original Deed recording was usually the only recorded document in the Chain of Title. That is because banks kept the loans, and did not sell the loan, hence, only the original recording being present in the banks name.

The advent of Securitization, especially through “Private Investors” and not Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac, involved an entirely new process in mortgage lending. With Securitization, the Notes and Deeds were sold once, twice, three times or more. Using the traditional model would involve recording new Assignments of the Deed and Note as each transfer of the Note or Deed of Trust occurred. Obviously, this required time and money for each recording.

(The selling or transferring of the Note is not to be confused with the selling of Servicing Rights, which is simply the right to collect payments on the Note, and keep a small portion of the payment for Servicing Fees. Usually, when a homeowner states that their loan was sold, they are referring to Servicing Rights.)

The creation of MERS changed the process. Instead of the lender being the Beneficiary on the Deed of Trust, MERS was now named as either the “Beneficiary” or the “Nominee for the Beneficiary” on the Deed of Trust. The concept was that with MERS assuming this role, there would be no need for Assignments of the Deed of Trust, since MERS would be given the “power of sale” through the Deed of Trust.

The naming of MERS as the Beneficiary meant that certain other procedures had to change. This was a result of the Note actually being made out to the lender, and not to MERS. Before explaining this change, it would be wise to explain the Securitization process.

Securitizing a Loan

Securitizing a loan is the process of selling a loan to Wall Street and private investors. It is a method with many issues to be considered, especially tax issues, which is beyond the purview of this article. The methodology of securitizing a loan generally followed these steps:

  • A Wall Street firm would approach other entities about issuing a “Series of Bonds” for sell to investors and would come to an agreement. In other words, the Wall Street firm “pre-sold” the bonds.
  • The Wall Street firm would approach a lender and usually offer them a Warehouse Line of Credit. This credit would be used to fund the loans. The Warehouse Line would include the initial Pooling & Servicing Agreement Guidelines and the Mortgage Loan Purchase Agreement. These documents outlined the procedures for creation of the loans and the administering of the loans prior to, and after, the sale of the loans to Wall Street.
  • The Lender, with the guidelines, essentially went out and found “buyers” for the loans, people who fit the general characteristics of the Purchase Agreement,. (Guidelines were very general and most people could qualify.” The Lender would execute the loan and fund it, collecting payments until there were enough loans funded to sell to the Wall Street firm who could then issue the bonds.
  • Once the necessary loans were funded, the lender would then sell the loans to the “Sponsor”, usually the Wall Street firm. At this point, the loans are separated into “tranches” of loans, where they are then turned into bonds. Then, they went to the “Depositor”, usually either the Wall Street firm or back to the lender through as separate entity, and then they would be sold to the “Issuing Entity” which would be the created entity for the selling of the bonds. Finally, the bonds would be sold, with a Trustee appointed to ensure that the bondholders received their monthly payments.

As can be seen, each Securitized Loan has had the ownership of the loan transferred two to three times minimum, and without Assignments executed for each transfer.

(Note: This is a VERY simplified version of the process, but it gives the general idea. Depending upon the lender, it could change to some degree, especially if Fannie Mae bought the loans. The purpose of such a convoluted process was so that the entities selling the bonds could become a “bankruptcy remote” vehicle, protecting lenders and Wall Street from harm, and also creating a “Tax Favorable” investment entity known as an REIMC. An explanation of this process would be cumbersome at this time.)

New Procedures

As mentioned previously, Securitization and MERS required many changes in established practices. These practices were not and have not been codified, so they are major points of contention today. I will only cover a few important issues which are being fought out in the courts today.

One of the first issues to be addressed was how MERS might foreclose on a property. This was “solved” through an “unusual” practice.

  • MERS has only 44 employees. They are all “overhead”, administrative or legal personnel. How could they handle the load of foreclosures, Assignments, etc to be expected of a company with their duties and obligations? When a lender, title company, foreclosure company or other firm signed up to become a member of MERS, one or more of their people were designated as “Corporate Officers” of MERS and given the title of either Assistant Secretary or Vice President. These personnel were not employed by MERS, nor received income from MERS. They werebeen named “Officers” solely for the purpose of signing foreclosure and other legal documents in the name of MERS. (Apparently, there are some agreements which “authorize” these people to act in an Agency manner for MERS.)

This “solved” the issue of not having enough personnel to conduct necessary actions. It would be the Servicers, Trustees and Title Companies conducting the day-to-day operations needed for MERS to function.

As well, it was thought that this would provide MERS and their “Corporate Officers” with the “legal standing” to foreclose.

However, this brought up another issue that now needed addressing:

  • When a Note is transferred, it must be endorsed and signed, in the manner of a person signing his paycheck over to another party. Customary procedure was to endorse it as “Pay to the Order of” and the name of the party taking the Note and then signed by the endorsing party. With a new party holding the Note, there would now need to be an Assignment of the Debt. This could not work if MERS was to be the foreclosing party.

Once a name is placed into the endorsement of the Note, then that person has the beneficial interest in the Note. Any attempt by MERS to foreclose in the MERS name would result in a challenge to the foreclosure since, the Note was owned by “ABC” and MERS was the “Beneficiary”.

MERS would not have the legal standing to foreclose, since only the “person of interest” would have such authority. So, it was decided that the Note would be endorsed “in blank”, which effectively made the Note a “Bearer Bond”, and anyone holding the Note would have the “legal standing” to enforce the Note under Uniform Commercial Code. This would also suggest that Assignments would not be necessary.

MERS has recognized the Note Endorsement problem and on their website, stated that they could be the foreclosing party only if the Note was endorsed in blank. If it was endorsed to another party, then that party would be the foreclosing party.

As a result, most Notes are endorsed in blank, which purportedly allows MERS to be the foreclosing party. However, CA Civil Code 2932.5 has a completely different say in the matter. It requires that the Assignment of the Debt be executed.

  • CA Civil Code 2932.5 – Assignment “Where a power to sell real property is given to a mortgagee, or other encumbrancer, in an instrument intended to secure the payment of money, the power is part of the security and vests in any person who by assignment becomes entitled to payment of the money secured by the instrument. The power of sale may be exercised by the assignee if the assignment is duly acknowledged and recorded.”

As is readily apparent, the above statute would suggest that Assignment is a requirement for enforcing foreclosure.

The question now becomes as to whether a Note Endorsed in Blank and transferred to different entities as indicated previously does allow for foreclosure. If MERS is the foreclosing authority but has no entitlement to payment of the money, how could they foreclose? This is especially true if the true beneficiary is not known. Why do I raise the question of who the true beneficiary is? Again, from the MERS website……..

  • “On MERS loans, MERS will show as the beneficiary of record. Foreclosures should be commenced in the name of MERS. To effectuate this process, MERS has allowed each servicer to choose a select number of its own employees to act as officers for MERS. Through this process, appropriate documents may be executed at the servicer’s site, on behalf of MERS by the same servicing employee that signs foreclosure documents for non-MERS loans. Until the time of sale, the foreclosure is handled in same manner as non-MERS foreclosures. At the time of sale, if the property reverts, the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale will follow a different procedure. Since MERS acts as nominee for the true beneficiary, it is important that the Trustee’s Deed Upon Sale be made in the name of the true beneficiary and not MERS. Your title company or MERS officer can easily determine the true beneficiary. Title companies have indicated that they will insure subsequent title when these procedures are followed.”

There, you have it. Direct from the MERS website. They admit that they name people to sign documents in the name of MERS. Often, these are Title Company employees or others that have no knowledge of the actual loan and whether it is in default or not.

Even worse, MERS admits that they are not the true beneficiary of the loan. In fact, it is likely that MERS has no knowledge of the true beneficiary of the loan for whom they are representing in an “Agency” relationship. They admit to this when they say “Your title company or MERS officer can easily determine the true beneficiary.

To further reinforce that MERS is not the true beneficiary of the loan, one need only look at the following Nevada Bankruptcy case, Hawkins, Case No. BK-S-07-13593-LBR (Bankr.Nev. 3/31/2009) (Bankr.Nev., 2009)“A “beneficiary” is defined as “one designated to benefit from an appointment, disposition, or assignment . . . or to receive something as a result of a legal arrangement or instrument.” BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 165 (8th ed. 2004). But it is obvious from the MERS’ “Terms and Conditions” that MERS is not a beneficiary as it has no rights whatsoever to any payments, to any servicing rights, or to any of the properties secured by the loans. To reverse an old adage, if it doesn’t walk like a duck, talk like a duck, and quack like a duck, then it’s not a duck.”

If one accepts the above ruling, which MERS does not agree with, MERS would not have the ability to foreclose on a property for lack of being a true Beneficiary. This leads us back to the MERS as “Nominee for the Beneficiary” and foreclosing as Agent for the Beneficiary. There may be pitfalls with this argument.

  • When the initial Deed of Trust is made out in the name of MERS as Nominee for the Beneficiary and the Note is made to AB Lender, there should be no issues with MERS acting as an Agent for AB Lender. Hawkins even recognizes this as fact.
  • The issue does arise when the Note transfers possession. Though the Deed of Trust states “beneficiary and/or successors”, the question can arise as to who the successor is, and whether Agency is any longer in effect. MERS makes the argument that the successor Trustee is a MERS member and therefore Agency is still effective, and there does appear to be merit to the argument on the face of it. The original Note Holder, AB Lender, no longer holds the note, nor is entitled to payment. Therefore, that Agency relationship is terminated. However, the Note is endorsed in blank, and no Assignment has been made to any other entity, so who is the true beneficiary? And without the Assignment of the Note, is the Agency relationship intact?

Uniform Commercial Code may address this issue, however, it can be argued in the negative:

Uniform Commercial Code§ 3-301. PERSON ENTITLED TO ENFORCE INSTRUMENT.

“Person entitled to enforce” an instrument means (i) the holder of the instrument, (ii) a non-holder in possession of the instrument who has the rights of a holder, or (iii) a person not in possession of the instrument who is entitled to enforce the instrument pursuant to Section 3-309 or 3-418(d). A person may be a person entitled to enforce the instrument even though the person is not the owner of the instrument or is in wrongful possession of the instrument.

Are you confused yet? I am. Most attorneys are. And most courts are…….

Separation of the Note and the Deed

There is one more issue that I will now address. That is the separation of the Note and the Deed of Trust. Again, case law is confused on this.

In the case of MERS, the Note and the Deed of Trust are held by separate entities. This can pose a unique problem dependent upon the court. There are many court rulings based upon the following:

“The Deed of Trust is a mere incident of the debt it secures and an assignment of the debt carries with it the security instrument. Therefore, a Deed Of Trust is inseparable from the debt and always abides with the debt. It has no market or ascertainable value apart from the obligation it secures.

A Deed of Trust has no assignable quality independent of the debt, it may not be assigned or transferred apart from the debt, and an attempt to assign the Deed Of Trust without a transfer of the debt is without effect. “

This very “simple” statement poses major issues. To easily understand, if the Deed of Trust and the Note are not together with the same entity, then there can be no enforcement of the Note. The Deed of Trust enforces the Note. It provides the capability for the lender to foreclose on a property. If the Deed is separate from the Note, then enforcement, i.e. foreclosure cannot occur. The following ruling summarizes this nicely.

In Saxon vs Hillery, CA, Dec 2008, Contra Costa County Superior Court, an action by Saxon to foreclose on a property by lawsuit was dismissed due to lack of legal standing. This was because the Note and the Deed of Trust were “owned” by separate entities. The Court ruled that when the Note and Deed of Trust were separated, the enforceability of the Note was negated until rejoined. ( Note: LFI did the audit for this loan.)

All Saxon could do on this loan would be to rescind the foreclosure, reunite the Deed and the Note by Assignment and then foreclose again.

Other examples of this is that in the past month, LFI has done audits whereby it was determined that Notary Fraud was present with regard to the signing of the Deed of Trust. This immediately made the Deed of Trust void, and as a result, the Note was then “Unsecured Debt”, and the property was unable to be foreclosed upon. There is even question as to if the Note is void as well.

As I have attempted to show, the whole concept of MERS is fraught with controversy and questions. Certainly, at the very least, MERS actions pose legal issues that are still being addressed each and every day. As to where these actions will ultimate lead, it is anybody’s guess. With some courts, the court sides with the lender, and others side with the homeowner. However, there does appear to be a trend developing that suggests, at least in Bankruptcy Courts, MERS is losing support.

I would like to again make note of the fact that this is simply a basic primer on MERS and the issues surrounding it. To fully cover MERS, I could easily write 100 pages, quoting statutes, case law and legal theories regarding how to defend against MERS.. However, I will save that for the attorneys, and someday, when I have time to write a book on the battles occurring daily in the courts.

Update:

As I wrote this article, a case pending on appeal in Kansas was finally decided. This case, Landmark vs Kesler, Milliennia, MERS, Sovereign Bank and others was finally decided. It offered some interesting conclusions, and reinforces what I had written about in the above article.

I must stress that this case is a guide only. It was in Kansas, and draws from case law in many different states. What is important is that with any Court, case law within the jurisdiction of the Court must be considered first in arguments. If such case law for arguments does not exist, then case law from other jurisdictions can be used to support the arguments.

What this case does do is provide guidelines for arguing in other venues. I do find the case very interesting in that it does highlight the general issues that I addressed above. It supports Haskins very nicely.

It should be noted that various articles have already been written, some of which promote the idea that it will mean free homes for millions of people. This is not likely for various reasons. However, it does offer interesting possibilities regarding certain lawsuits that I am currently assisting with. Of course, LFI has anticipated this occurring and is currently assisting attorneys in refining the argument.

This case is about a foreclosure that had occurred. The lender is trying to overturn a default judgement in favor of another lender. MERS has sided with that lender. As such, the differences in this case could weigh heavy in future rulings. I will just cite relevant portions without going into great detail, which would take a day to write. My comments follow each quote from the ruling.

“While this is a matter of first impression in Kansas, other jurisdictions have issued opinions on similar and related issues, and, while we do not consider those opinions binding in the current litigation, we find them to be useful guideposts in our analysis of the issues before us.”

This supports my contention that this is only useful in other jurisdictions to argue, but jurisdictional case law takes precedence in each area. Therefore, arguments must be made that can overturn such case law.

“Black’s Law Dictionary defines a nominee as “[a] person designated to act in place of another, usu. in a very limited way” and as “[a] party who holds bare legal title for the benefit of others or who receives and distributes funds for the benefit of others.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1076 (8th ed. 2004). This definition suggests that a nominee possesses few or no legally enforceable rights beyond those of a principal whom the nominee serves……..The legal status of a nominee, then, depends on the context of the relationship of the nominee to its principal. Various courts have interpreted the relationship of MERS and the lender as an agency relationship.”

This is the essence of the Agency Relationship that I presented above.

“LaSalle Bank Nat. Ass’n v. Lamy, 2006 WL 2251721, at *2 (N.Y. Sup. 2006) (unpublished opinion) (”A nominee of the owner of a note and mortgage may not effectively assign the note and mortgage to another for want of an ownership interest in said note and mortgage by the nominee.”)”

This case, if used and upheld in California, could portend great consequences for all homeowners.

The law generally understands that a mortgagee is not distinct from a lender: a mortgagee is “[o]ne to whom property is mortgaged: the mortgage creditor, or lender.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1034 (8th ed. 2004). By statute, assignment of the mortgage carries with it the assignment of the debt. K.S.A. 58-2323. Although MERS asserts that, under some situations, the mortgage document purports to give it the same rights as the lender, the document consistently refers only to rights of the lender, including rights to receive notice of litigation, to collect payments, and to enforce the debt obligation. The document consistently limits MERS to acting “solely” as the nominee of the lender.

Indeed, in the event that a mortgage loan somehow separates interests of the note and the deed of trust, with the deed of trust lying with some independent entity, the mortgage may become unenforceable.

“The practical effect of splitting the deed of trust from the promissory note is to make it impossible for the holder of the note to foreclose, unless the holder of the deed of trust is the agent of the holder of the note. [Citation omitted.] Without the agency relationship, the person holding only the note lacks the power to foreclose in the event of default. The person holding only the deed of trust will never experience default because only the holder of the note is entitled to payment of the underlying obligation. [Citation omitted.] The mortgage loan becomes ineffectual when the note holder did not also hold the deed of trust.” Bellistri v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 284 S.W.3d 619, 623 (Mo. App. 2009).

“MERS never held the promissory note, thus its assignment of the deed of trust to Ocwen separate from the note had no force.” 284 S.W.3d at 624; see also In re Wilhelm, 407 B.R. 392 (Bankr. D. Idaho 2009) (standard mortgage note language does not expressly or implicitly authorize MERS to transfer the note); In re Vargas, 396 B.R. 511, 517 (Bankr. C.D. Cal. 2008) (”[I]f FHM has transferred the note, MERS is no longer an authorized agent of the holder unless it has a separate agency contract with the new undisclosed principal.

MERS presents no evidence as to who owns the note, or of any authorization to act on behalf of the present owner.”); Saxon Mortgage Services, Inc. v. Hillery, 2008 WL 5170180 (N.D. Cal. 2008) (unpublished opinion) (”[F]or there to be a valid assignment, there must be more than just assignment of the deed alone; the note must also be assigned. . . . MERS purportedly assigned both the deed of trust and the promissory note. . . . However, there is no evidence of record that establishes that MERS either held the promissory note or was given the authority . . . to assign the note.”).

This identifies the real issue, as I mentioned previously. The Note and the Deed were separated, so without Assignments uniting them, there can be no foreclosure.

What stake in the outcome of an independent action for foreclosure could MERS have? It did not lend the money to Kesler or to anyone else involved in this case. Neither Kesler nor anyone else involved in the case was required by statute or contract to pay money to MERS on the mortgage. See Sheridan, ___ B.R. at ___ (”MERS is not an economic ‘beneficiary’ under the Deed of Trust. It is owed and will collect no money from Debtors under the Note, nor will it realize the value of the Property through foreclosure of the Deed of Trust in the event the Note is not paid.”).

 If MERS is only the mortgagee, without ownership of the mortgage instrument, it does not have an enforceable right. See Vargas, 396 B.R. 517 (”[w]hile the note is ‘essential,’ the mortgage is only ‘an incident’ to the note” [quoting Carpenter v. Longan, 16 Wall. 271, 83 U.S. 271, 275, 21 L. Ed 313 (1872)]).

This reinforces the Hawkins argument that without a “Beneficial Interest”, there is no ability to enforce the note.

This ruling in Kansas comes down to several basic issues. These are that:

  • MERS had no Beneficial Interest in the Note, therefore, they could not be a Party of Interest and had no authority in the case.
  • MERS and the Agency Relationship did not exist with the Assignment of the Note without a new Agency Agreement.
  • The Note and the Deed of Trust were separated, therefore, the Note could not be enforced by the Deed of Trust.
  • MERS did not have a power to assign the Note.

This ruling, along with Hawkins, can offer the attorney a practical roadmap on how to attack MERS. It should not be taken for granted that this will apply in all states immediately, nor that this will be easy. Jurisdictional Case Law will certainly have to be fought out and overcome. Additionally, I do expect further appeals of this case, especially with other parties joining in to side with MERS because of the practical implications of this ruling.

By Author: Patrick Pulatie

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62 Million Homes Could Be Foreclosure-Proof!

Posted by revolt | 62 Million Homes Could Be Foreclosure-Proof! | Friday 20 August 2010 10:13 pm

Homeowners’ Rebellion: Could 62 Million Homes Be Foreclosure-Proof?

August 19, 2010  

Over 62 million mortgages are now held in the name of MERS, an electronic recording system devised by and for the convenience of the mortgage industry. A California bankruptcy court, following landmark cases in other jurisdictions, recently held that this electronic shortcut makes it impossible for banks to establish their ownership of property titles — and therefore to foreclose on mortgaged properties. The logical result could be 62 million homes that are foreclosure-proof.

Mortgages bundled into securities were a favorite investment of speculators at the height of the financial bubble leading up to the crash of 2008. The securities changed hands frequently, and the companies profiting from mortgage payments were often not the same parties that negotiated the loans. At the heart of this disconnect was the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a company that serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, allowing properties to change hands without the necessity of recording each transfer.

MERS was convenient for the mortgage industry, but courts are now questioning the impact of all of this financial juggling when it comes to mortgage ownership. To foreclose on real property, the plaintiff must be able to establish the chain of title entitling it to relief. But MERS has acknowledged, and recent cases have held, that MERS is a mere “nominee” — an entity appointed by the true owner simply for the purpose of holding property in order to facilitate transactions.

Recent court opinions stress that this defect is not just a procedural but is a substantive failure, one that is fatal to the plaintiff’s legal ability to foreclose. That means hordes of victims of predatory lending could end up owning their homes free and clear — while the financial industry could end up skewered on its own sword.

California Precedent

The latest of these court decisions came down in California on May 20, 2010, in a bankruptcy case called In re Walker, Case no. 10-21656-E–11. The court held that MERS could not foreclose because it was a mere nominee; and that as a result, plaintiff Citibank (C) could not collect on its claim. The judge opined:

Since no evidence of MERS’ ownership of the underlying note has been offered, and other courts have concluded that MERS does not own the underlying notes, this court is convinced that MERS had no interest it could transfer to Citibank. Since MERS did not own the underlying note, it could not transfer the beneficial interest of the Deed of Trust to another. Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.

In support, the judge cited In Re Vargas (California Bankruptcy Court); Landmark v. Kesler (Kansas Supreme Court); LaSalle Bank v. Lamy (a New York case); and In Re Foreclosure Cases (the “Boyko” decision from Ohio Federal Court). The court concluded:

Since the claimant, Citibank, has not established that it is the owner of the promissory note secured by the trust deed, Citibank is unable to assert a claim for payment in this case.

The broad impact the case could have on California foreclosures is suggested by attorney Jeff Barnes, who writes:

This opinion … serves as a legal basis to challenge any foreclosure in California based on a MERS assignment; to seek to void any MERS assignment of the Deed of Trust or the note to a third party for purposes of foreclosure; and should be sufficient for a borrower to not only obtain a TRO [temporary restraining order] against a Trustee’s Sale, but also a Preliminary Injunction barring any sale pending any litigation filed by the borrower challenging a foreclosure based on a MERS assignment.

While not binding on courts in other jurisdictions, the ruling could serve as persuasive precedent there as well, because the court cited non-bankruptcy cases related to the lack of authority of MERS, and because the opinion is consistent with prior rulings in Idaho and Nevada Bankruptcy courts on the same issue.

What Could This Mean for Homeowners?

Earlier cases focused on the inability of MERS to produce a promissory note or assignment establishing that it was entitled to relief, but most courts have considered this a mere procedural defect and continue to look the other way on MERS’ technical lack of standing to sue. The more recent cases, however, are looking at something more serious. If MERS is not the title holder of properties held in its name, the chain of title has been broken, and no one may have standing to sue. In MERS v. Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance, MERS insisted that it had no actionable interest in title, and the court agreed.

An August 2010 article in Mother Jones titled “Fannie and Freddie’s Foreclosure Barons” exposes a widespread practice of “foreclosure mills” in backdating assignments after foreclosures have been filed. Not only is this perjury, a prosecutable offense, but if MERS was never the title holder, there is nothing to assign. The defaulting homeowners could wind up with free and clear title.

In Jacksonville, Florida, legal aid attorney April Charney has been using the missing-note argument ever since she first identified that weakness in the lenders’ case in 2004. Five years later, she says, some of the homeowners she’s helped are still in their homes. According to a Huffington Post article titled “‘Produce the Note’ Movement Helps Stall Foreclosures”:

Because of the missing ownership documentation, Charney is now starting to file quiet title actions, hoping to get her homeowner clients full title to their homes (a quiet title action ‘quiets’ all other claims). Charney says she’s helped thousands of homeowners delay or prevent foreclosure, and trained thousands of lawyers across the country on how to protect homeowners and battle in court.

Criminal Charges?

Other suits go beyond merely challenging title to alleging criminal activity. On July 26, 2010, a class action was filed in Florida seeking relief against MERS and an associated legal firm for racketeering and mail fraud. It alleges that the defendants used “the artifice of MERS to sabotage the judicial process to the detriment of borrowers;” that “to perpetuate the scheme, MERS was and is used in a way so that the average consumer, or even legal professional, can never determine who or what was or is ultimately receiving the benefits of any mortgage payments;” that the scheme depended on “the MERS artifice and the ability to generate any necessary ‘assignment’ which flowed from it;” and that “by engaging in a pattern of racketeering activity, specifically ‘mail or wire fraud,’ the Defendants … participated in a criminal enterprise affecting interstate commerce.”

Local governments deprived of filing fees may also be getting into the act, at least through representatives suing on their behalf. Qui tam actions allow for a private party or “whistle blower” to bring suit on behalf of the government for a past or present fraud on it. In State of California ex rel. Barrett R. Bates, filed May 10, 2010, the plaintiff qui tam sued on behalf of a long list of local governments in California against MERS and a number of lenders, including Bank of America (BAC), JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Wells Fargo (WFC), for “wrongfully bypass[ing] the counties’ recording requirements; divest[ing] the borrowers of the right to know who owned the promissory note … ; and record[ing] false documents to initiate and pursue non-judicial foreclosures, and to otherwise decrease or avoid payment of fees to the Counties and the Cities where the real estate is located.”

The complaint notes that “MERS claims to have ‘saved’ at least $2.4 billion dollars in recording costs,” meaning it has helped avoid billions of dollars in fees otherwise accruing to local governments. The plaintiff sues for treble damages for all recording fees not paid during the past ten years, and for civil penalties of between $5,000 and $10,000 for each unpaid or underpaid recording fee and each false document recorded during that period, potentially a hefty sum. Similar suits have been filed by the same plaintiff qui tam in Nevada and Tennessee.

By Their Own Sword: MERS’ Role in the Financial Crisis

MERS is, according to its website:

… an innovative process that simplifies the way mortgage ownership and servicing rights are originated, sold and tracked. Created by the real estate finance industry, MERS eliminates the need to prepare and record assignments when trading residential and commercial mortgage loans.

Or as Karl Denninger puts it:

MERS’ own website claims that it exists for the purpose of circumventing assignments and documenting ownership!

MERS was developed in the early 1990s by a number of financial entities, including Bank of America, Countrywide (CFC), Fannie Mae (FNMA.OB), and Freddie Mac (FMCC.OB), allegedly to allow consumers to pay less for mortgage loans. That did not actually happen, but what MERS did allow was the securitization and shuffling around of mortgages behind a veil of anonymity. The result was not only to cheat local governments out of their recording fees but to defeat the purpose of the recording laws, which was to guarantee purchasers clean title. Worse, MERS facilitated an explosion of predatory lending in which lenders could not be held to account because they could not be identified, either by the preyed-upon borrowers or by the investors seduced into buying bundles of worthless mortgages. As alleged in a Nevada class action called Lopez vs. Executive Trustee Services, et al.:

Before MERS, it would not have been possible for mortgages with no market value … to be sold at a profit or collateralized and sold as mortgage-backed securities. Before MERS, it would not have been possible for the Defendant banks and AIG (AIG) to conceal from government regulators the extent of risk of financial losses those entities faced from the predatory origination of residential loans and the fraudulent re-sale and securitization of those otherwise non-marketable loans. Before MERS, the actual beneficiary of every Deed of Trust on every parcel in the United States and the State of Nevada could be readily ascertained by merely reviewing the public records at the local recorder’s office where documents reflecting any ownership interest in real property are kept…

After MERS, the servicing rights were transferred after the origination of the loan to an entity so large that communication with the servicer became difficult if not impossible… The servicer was interested in only one thing – making a profit from the foreclosure of the borrower’s residence – so that the entire predatory cycle of fraudulent origination, resale, and securitization of yet another predatory loan could occur again. This is the legacy of MERS, and the entire scheme was predicated upon the fraudulent designation of MERS as the “beneficiary” under millions of deeds of trust in Nevada and other states.

Axing the Bankers’ Money Tree

If courts overwhelmed with foreclosures decide to take up the cause, the result could be millions of struggling homeowners with the banks off their backs, and millions of homes no longer on the books of some too-big-to-fail banks. Without those assets, the banks could again be looking at bankruptcy. As was pointed out in a San Francisco Chronicle article by attorney Sean Olender following the October 2007 Boyko [pdf] decision:

The ticking time bomb in the US banking system is not resetting subprime mortgage rates. The real problem is the contractual ability of investors in mortgage bonds to require banks to buy back the loans at face value if there was fraud in the origination process.

The loans at issue dwarf the capital available at the largest US banks combined, and investor lawsuits would raise stunning liability sufficient to cause even the largest US banks to fail…

Nationalization of these giant banks might be the next logical step — a step that some commentators said should have been taken in the first place. When the banking system of Sweden collapsed following a housing bubble in the 1990s, nationalization of the banks worked out very well for that country.

The Swedish banks were largely privatized again when they got back on their feet, but it might be a good idea to keep some banks as publicly-owned entities, on the model of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. For most of the 20th century it served as a “people’s bank,” making low interest loans to consumers and businesses through branches all over the country.

With the strengthened position of Wall Street following the 2008 bailout and the tepid 2010 banking reform bill, the US is far from nationalizing its mega-banks now. But a committed homeowner movement to tear off the predatory mask called MERS could yet turn the tide. While courts are not likely to let 62 million homeowners off scot free, the defect in title created by MERS could give them significant new leverage at the bargaining table.

Written By: Ellen Brown

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Florida Attorney General Investigates Fraudulent Foreclosures

Posted by revolt | Florida Attorney General Investigates Fraudulent Foreclosures | Friday 20 August 2010 8:49 pm

Attorney General Investigates Law Firms In Alleged Falsified Foreclosures

By Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent
In Print: Wednesday, August 11, 2010

As foreclosures soar to record levels, Florida homeowners, defense lawyers and even some judges have complained about what they say is shoddy and fraudulent paperwork filed by banks seeking to foreclose.

Now, the Florida Attorney General’s Office is joining the fray.

The office announced Tuesday that it is investigating the law firms of Shapiro & Fishman in Tampa, Marshall C. Watson in Fort Lauderdale and David J. Stern in Plantation for alleged “unfair and deceptive actions” that may have cost people their homes.

Among the allegations: that the firms, which represent banks, filed “fabricated” documents in court on numerous occasions when the original paperwork needed to foreclose was missing.

“Thousands of final judgments of foreclosure against Florida homeowners may have been the result of the allegedly improper actions of the law firms under investigation,” the Attorney General’s Office said in a news release.

All three firms were served with subpoenas Friday demanding they turn over reams of records, including the names of all lenders they have represented in the past five years and the names of all lawyers, notaries and other employees.

In addition, each firm was asked to provide documents on certain foreclosure cases it has handled. Among them is that of Ernest Harpster, a Pasco County homeowner whose case was dismissed by Judge Lynn Tepper in March after she ruled that Stern’s firm had submitted what she called a “fraudulently backdated” document.

Jeffrey Tew, a Miami lawyer representing Stern, said the firm “fully intends to cooperate” with the subpoena.

“We are confident when they see all facts they will conclude the Stern law firm hasn’t done anything wrong,” he said.

As with the Harpster case, 21 assignments of mortgage filed in Palm Beach County by the Stern firm appeared to be backdated because they bore stamps from notary seals that did not exist at the time the documents supposedly were notarized.

Assignments of mortgage — which transfer ownership of a loan from one party to another — are key in determining who has the legal right to foreclose. A backdated assignment could mean that the bank didn’t own the note at the time it started foreclosing, or that the assignment was created to show ownership that didn’t actually exist.

Tew said that cases with problematic notary seals were a minuscule number of the 100,000 or so foreclosures Stern’s firm has handled in the past few years.

“These are clerical mistakes, and it’s wrong to attribute some sort of evil motives because they were legitimate mortgages and legitimate foreclosures,” Tew said. “And when the firm found out this mistake in dating they withdrew the misdated assignments from the court files and filed proper ones.”

The other two law firms, Shapiro & Fishman and Marshall C. Watson, did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment.

The three law firms bring to five the number of institutions under investigation by the Attorney General’s Office for allegedly deceptive foreclosure practices. The office already had been looking at Florida Default Law Group in Tampa and Fidelity National Financial in Jacksonville.

Pinellas Circuit Judge Anthony Rondolino, who handles some of the 33,000 foreclosure cases pending in Pinellas and Pasco Counties, said he could not comment on the investigation. But he acknowledged that he and other judges “have had concern for some time” about foreclosure filings.

As a result, lawyers must certify that they have complied with proper foreclosure procedures and that they are “actually paying attention to what (is) being filed,” Rondolino said.

But lawyers representing home­owners say problems are rampant nationwide.

“We have fraudulent documents in each and every foreclosure case of mine and in every foreclosure case filed in this country,” said lawyer April Charney, a foreclosure expert with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

“There is layer upon layer of bogus documents in the assignments, powers of attorney, pleading, judgments, affidavits, service of process, etc., from one end to the other,” she said.

The largest of what Charney and other critics call “foreclosure mills” is the Stern firm. It represents most of the nation’s biggest banks and handles 20 percent of all foreclosure suits filed in Florida.

As the St. Petersburg Times reported last month, Stern, who lives in a $15 million Fort Lauderdale house with a tennis court, was publicly reprimanded by the Florida Bar in 2002 for misleading and overcharging both home­owners and his own clients.

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Bank’s Fraudulent Foreclosure Bites The Dust

Posted by revolt | Bank's Fraudulent Foreclosure Bites The Dust | Friday 20 August 2010 8:23 pm

BANK’S FRAUDULENT FORECLOSURE BITES THE DUST

BLOOMBERG ARTICLE – Wednesday, 11 August, 2010

 

Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) — Joe Lents hasn’t made a payment on his $1.5 million mortgage since 2002.

That’s when Washington Mutual Inc. first tried to foreclose on his home in Boca Raton, Florida. The Seattle-based lender failed to prove that it owned Lents’s mortgage note and dropped attempts to take his house. Subsequent efforts to foreclose have stalled because no one has produced the paperwork.

“If you’re going to take my house away from me, you better own the note,” said Lents, 63, the former chief executive officer of a now-defunct voice recognition software company.

Judges in at least five states have stopped foreclosure proceedings because the banks that pool mortgages into securities and the companies that collect monthly payments haven’t been able to prove they own the mortgages. The confusion is another headache for U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as he revises rules for packaging mortgages into securities.

“I think it’s going to become pretty hairy,” said Josh Rosner, managing director at the New York-based investment research firm Graham Fisher & Co. “Regulators appear to have ignored this, given the size and scope of the problem.”

More than $2.1 trillion, or 19 percent, of outstanding mortgages have been bundled into securities by private banks, according to Inside Mortgage Finance, a Bethesda, Maryland-based industry newsletter. Those loans may be sold several times before they land in a security. Mortgage servicers, who collect monthly payments and distribute them to securities investors, can buy and sell the home loans many times.

Housing Boom

Each time the mortgages change hands, the sellers are required to sign over the mortgage notes to the buyers. In the rush to originate more loans during the U.S. mortgage boom, from 2003 to 2006, that assignment of ownership wasn’t always properly completed, said Alan White, assistant professor at Valparaiso University School of Law in Valparaiso, Indiana.

“Loans were mass produced and short cuts were taken,” White said. “A lot of the paperwork is done in the name of the original lender and a lot of the original lenders aren’t around anymore.”

More than 100 mortgage companies stopped making loans, closed or were sold last year, according to Bloomberg data.

The foreclosure rate, at 1.69 percent of all U.S. homeowners, is the highest since the Mortgage Bankers Association began tracking it in 1993. The foreclosure rate for sub-prime borrowers, who have bad or incomplete credit and whose mortgages typically are securitized by private banks rather than government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, is at a four-year high, according to the mortgage bankers.

750,000 Homeowners – More than 1.5 million homeowners will enter the foreclosure process this year, said Rick Sharga, executive vice president for marketing at RealtyTrac Inc., the Irvine, California-based seller of foreclosure information. About half of them, 750,000, will have their homes repossessed, Sharga said.

Borrower advocates, including Ohio Attorney General Marc Dann, have seized upon the issue of missing mortgage notes as a way to stem foreclosures.

“The best thing to do is to keep people in their homes and for everybody to take steps necessary to make that happen,” said Chris Geidner, an attorney in Dann’s office. “These trusts are purchasing these notes, and before they even get the paperwork, they foreclose on people. They become foreclosure machines.”

Lost-Note Affidavits

When the mortgage servicers and securitizing banks that act as trustees of the securities fail to present proof that they own a mortgage, they sometimes file what’s called a lost-note affidavit, said April Charney, a lawyer at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid in Florida.

Nobody knows how widespread the use of lost-note affidavits are, Charney said. She’s had foreclosure proceedings for 300 clients dismissed or postponed in the past year, with about 80 percent of them involving lost-note affidavits, she said.

“They raise the issue of whether the trusts own the loans at all,” Charney said. “Lost-note affidavits are pattern and practice in the industry. They are not exceptions. They are the rule.”

State laws generally make it difficult to foreclose because they favor the homeowner, said Stuart Saft, a real estate lawyer and partner at the New York firm Dewey & LeBoeuf LLP.

“All these loan documents are being sent to the inside of a mountain in the middle of America and not being checked very carefully,” Saft said. “The lenders can’t find the paper. We’re dealing with a lot of paper produced in a mortgage closing.”

‘Waste of Time’

Requiring banks to produce the paperwork at a foreclosure hearing is a nuisance, said Jeffrey Naimon, a partner in the Washington office of Buckley Kolar LLP. “It’s a gigantic waste of time,” Naimon said. “The mortgage may have transferred five, six, eight times. It’s possible that you don’t have all the pieces of paper, but it was enough to convince the next guy in the chain. There’s no true controversy over whether the owner owns the loan.”

Judges are becoming increasingly impatient with plaintiffs who produce no more proof of ownership than a lost-note affidavit or a copy of the note, said Michael Doan, an attorney at Doan Law Firm LLP in Carlsbad, California.

“Things are heating up,” Doan said.

In Ohio, where RealtyTrac reported an 88 percent jump in foreclosures last year, Dann, the attorney general, is now arguing 40 foreclosure cases that challenge ownership of mortgage notes, according to his office.

‘Cavalier Approach’

U.S. District Judge David D. Dowd Jr. in Ohio’s northern district chastised Deutsche Bank National Trust Co. and Argent Mortgage Securities Inc. in October for what he called their “cavalier approach” and “take my word for it” attitude toward proving ownership of the mortgage note in a foreclosure case.

John Gallagher, a spokesman for Frankfurt-based Deutsche Bank AG, said the bank had no comment. Federal District Judge Christopher Boyko dismissed 14 foreclosure cases in Cleveland in November due to the inability of the trustee and the servicer to prove ownership of the mortgages.

Similar cases were dismissed during the past year by judges in California, Massachusetts, Kansas and New York. “Judges are human beings,” said Kenneth M. Lapine, a partner at the Cleveland law firm Roetzel & Andress LPA. “They no doubt feel the little guy needs all the help he can get against the impersonal, out of town, mega-investment banking company.”

Warning Plaintiffs

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Samuel L. Bufford in Los Angeles issued a notice last month warning plaintiffs in foreclosure cases to bring the mortgage notes to court and not submit copies.

“This requirement will apply because developments in the secondary market for mortgages and other security interests cause the court to lack confidence that presenting a copy of a promissory note is sufficient to show that movant has a right to enforce the note or that it qualifies as a real party in interest,” the notice said.

Quick foreclosures benefit communities because properties in default lose value and homeowners in financial distress don’t maintain their houses or pay real estate taxes, said Saft of Dewey & Leboeuf.

Painted as the Enemy

“When banks originally made the loans they used people’s money from pension funds and savings accounts and they should be allowed to foreclose the loan as quickly as possible before the property depreciates in value any more,” Saft said. “The mortgage industry has been painted as the enemy when all they did was make loans to enable people to buy homes. Now there’s less money available for new borrowers to buy homes and that’s what’s causing the value of homes to go down.”

Lents is former CEO of Investco Inc., a Boca Raton, Florida-based developer of voice recognition software. In 2002, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sanctioned Lents and others for stock manipulation, according to the SEC Web site. He lost his job, was fined and his assets were frozen. That’s the reason he couldn’t pay his mortgage, he said.

“If the homeowner doesn’t object to the lost-note affidavit, the judge rubber-stamps it,” Lents said. “Is it oversight, or are they trying to get around the law?” Washington Mutual spokeswoman Geri Ann Baptista said the bank had no comment.

Looking for Loopholes

“I can’t believe the handling of notes is worse than it was five years ago,” said Guy Cecala, publisher of Inside Mortgage Finance. “What we didn’t have back then were armies of attorneys out there looking for loopholes. People are challenging foreclosures and courts are paying a lot more attention to foreclosures than they ever did before.”

American Home Mortgage Investment Corp., the Melville, New York-based lender that filed for bankruptcy last August, said it was paying $45,000 a month to store loan paperwork and petitioned U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Christopher Sontchi in Wilmington, Delaware, for the right to toss it all. Sontchi ruled last week that American Home Mortgage could charge banks from $3 to $13 a file to retrieve documents.

The home-loan industry has had a central electronic database since 1997 to track mortgages as they are bought and sold. It’s run by Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS, a subsidiary of Vienna, Virginia-based MERSCORP Inc., which is owned by mortgage companies.
No Tracking Mechanism

MERS has 3,246 member companies and about half of outstanding mortgages are registered with the company, including loans purchased by government-sponsored entities Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae, said R.K. Arnold, the company’s CEO.

For about half of U.S. mortgages, there is no tracking mechanism.
MERS rules don’t allow members to submit lost-note affidavits in place of mortgage notes, Arnold said. “A lot of companies say the note is lost when it’s highly unlikely the note is lost,” Arnold said. “Saying a note is lost when it’s not really lost is wrong.” Lents’s attorney, Jane Raskin of Raskin & Raskin in Miami, said she has no idea who owns Lents’s mortgage note.

“Something is wrong if you start from what I think is the reasonable assumption that these banks are not losing all of these notes,” Raskin said. “As an officer of the court, I find it troubling that they’ve been going in and saying we lost the note, and because nobody is challenging it, the foreclosures are pushed through the system.”

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Can You Reverse A Foreclosure Sale?

Posted by revolt | Can You Reverse A Foreclosure Sale? | Friday 20 August 2010 8:11 pm

Can You Reverse A Foreclosure Sale?

 

Too many homeowners who have already lost their homes are looking for one final chance to get them back. They have contacted nearly every loss mitigation company, nonprofit organization, and government agency in the country, all of which have informed them that they do not qualify for any plan currently available to help them get their properties back after a foreclosure already been completed.

Is this true? Is there really no hope for borrowers whose homes have been sold and the auction has been confirmed? In most cases, this is not true, as there are still some remedies available after a foreclosure where a sale can be reversed and the owners given back ownership of their house. One of the main problems is that few companies or foreclosure specialists know about these last resort methods.

However, homeowners should be aware that these methods to get a home back after foreclosure may be very difficult to pull off. They should not be relied upon as the first option to stop foreclosure, as it can be much easier to qualify for a refinance, loan modification, or repayment plan. For the borrowers looking for one final opportunity, or those just trying to delay eviction for as long as possible, though, challenging the sale may be worth considering.

There are a number of grounds on which a foreclosure auction can be set aside, just as there are numerous claims to bring up in defending the lawsuit in the first place. In most cases, homeowners will have to bring their claims into the local court and attempt to have the sale reversed before they are evicted or the house falls into disrepair. The different types of claims that homeowners can bring into court are discussed more below.

The first way to challenge a trustee sale is based on irregularity in the conduct of the auction itself. This is often due to a lender or trustee not following the correct notice requirements to have a house sold through the auction process. Material violations of notice requirements may be enough to set aside the sale, although small technical violations may be ignored by the court unless they adversely affect the foreclosure, or have the possibility of encouraging fewer bids or lower bids.

The inadequacy of the sales price may also be grounds to set aside a foreclosure auction, although the common definition of “inadequate” has been taken to mean shocking the conscience of the court. Courts in many different areas have either set aside or refused to set aside foreclosure auctions due to low sale prices at auction. It may be wholly dependent on the judge in the case to decide whether or not to reverse the sale.

For instance, some courts have decided cases such as these: $875 for a property with $27,000 in equity was not set aside. $2,000 for a property worth $18,000 was set aside. $10,304 for a property worth $57,500 was set aside. Thus, it may be very difficult to determine whether a price at auction is inadequate without bringing the issue into court.

An inadequate price coupled with irregularity in the conduct of the sale may make an even stronger case for the court to set aside the auction. Courts have decided over time that the lower the price of the property, the more any technical or minor irregularity or procedural violation will be taken into account. This may give homeowners strong motivation to challenge their trustee sale.

A final reason to set aside a sale may be an inadequate price plus unfairness to the borrowers. The definitions of “inadequate” and “unfair” will have to be fought out in court, but properties which sell for far less than they are worth may be a sign of bad faith on the part of the lender, which has a duty to obtain the highest price possible for a property it auctions. Especially if the lender turns around and sells the home for more soon after the sheriff sale, unfairness may be determined.

Homeowners who are relying on such defenses to save their home, however, may find themselves disappointed in the end. The further along the process their home goes, the more difficult it will be to hold onto it and get another chance to make on-time payments. These challenges to a sheriff sale may be successful, or they may not be. But they should be considered one of the last resorts after everything else has been tried, but before moving out of the house completely.

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Fighting Foreclosure To Win!

Posted by revolt | Fighting Foreclosure To Win! | Monday 16 August 2010 7:48 pm

Fighting Foreclosure To Win!

 

Current statistics indicate that there are over 8 million foreclosures in the United States at the present time. However, very few homeowners are in a position to fight their foreclosure and WIN!

The average homeowner has no knowledge of the regulations or laws that govern the financial institutions that are currently holding their loans. They don’t know what is available to them in order for them to confidently and courageously take on their banks and lenders.

However, there are remedies available to you for this very purpose. In most cases this information is readily available to attorneys. However, the lay-person has little to no knowledge of the policies and procedures needed to implement such strategies. Even if you were aware of the federal violations, you would face the dilemma of which legal documents you would be required to file, and how.

The good news is that you can single-handedly take back your property free and clear by filing a notice of rescission, and or a quiet title action, based on Federal violations pursuant to the Truth In Lending Act (TILA), or the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

You can move to stop the foreclosure, and fight for your home by acquiring a “Forensic Loan Audit” that will identify any possible lender fraud, or Federal violations of the Truth and Lending Act (TILA), or the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA).

You can expose the fraud, stop the foreclosure, and take your home back by fighting your foreclosure! Recently, some homeowners have staved off foreclosure for more than four years using a newly employed legal strategy, which requires the lender to “Produce The Promissory Note”.

This legal strategy has been employed because of the way mortgages have been securitized in recent years. It’s often unclear who actually owns the debt, and what has been discovered is that systematically, the originating lenders only pledged these loans and didn’t actually transfer them” to the trusts that are supposed to hold them and issue the securities.

In many cases the lender is unable to produce the Promissory note and this is where you can step in and take your property back free and clear! With competent step-by-step instructions on the process and procedures, you can accomplish your goal. And, when I say free and clear, I mean never having to pay a mortgage payment ever again!

The latest powerful legal strategy being employed affectively to fight fraudulent bank foreclosures is title reconveyance of the property back into you, the homeowner’s name. Yes, you the homeowner as the original grantor/trustor appointed the trustee who was then empowered, unknowingly by you, to conduct the trustee sale when you signed your closing documents, and you the homeowner as the original grantor/trustor now have the power to revoke the trustees authority to conduct any foreclosure proceedings.

Once the trustees authority to conduct any trustee sale regarding your property has been revoked, the bank cannot foreclose on your property. A new trustee must be appointed, and guest who has the legal authority to appoint the new trustee?  That’s right, you do! And guess who you’re going to appoint as the new trustee of the property?  That’s right, you or any family member you designate can be appointed as the new trustee.

Now, once you have taken control as the new trustee, do you think you will be foreclosing on yourself? Absolutely not, and the bank will have to challenge you in court to stop you, and that will fail for reason we will reveal on this website in The “90 Day Take Back Program” Pt. 1.  

Can you imagine not having a house note? It is possible if you find that your lender cannot produce your promissory note, and you’re able to take the necessary legal steps to demand that they provide it or else! And, its also possible by taking the legal steps of title reconveyance outlined by The Homeowners Revolt.com’s “90 Day Take Back Program”.

Many adjustable rate mortgages were illegally securitized in the haste to convert toxic loans into fee-generating mortgage backed securities. Judges across the nation, including Boyko, Rose, Kurtz, Schack, Rosenblatt, Bufford, O’Malley, Shaw, Bryant and Foley have issued orders dismissing foreclosures brought by lenders that have illegally securitized loans, and are no longer current holders of the notes.

Therefore, you no longer have to be a victim of foreclosure. You can now fight back, WIN, and “Take Your Property Back Free And Clear”. If you find yourself in foreclosure, as so many Americans have today, you don’t have to lose your home without putting up a fight.

America is a nation of laws, and if you know those laws, you can stand up and fight for what is rightfully yours. The banks are hoping that because you don’t know the law, you’ll just hand over your property, even when they know they don’t legally own your home. Don’t hand over your home without a fight. “The Promissory Note Defense”, and the “90 Day Take Back Program” information is available to you NOW!

So arm yourself with the ammunition you’ll need in order to fight your mortgage WAR, and WIN! CLICK HERE To download your ammunition NOW!

By: Matt Brockman – The Homeowners Revolt.Com

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Judge Dismisses Foreclosure For Bank Fraud

Posted by revolt | Judge Dismisses Foreclosure For Bank Fraud | Monday 16 August 2010 5:19 pm

St. John’s County Judge Dismisses Foreclosure Case For Fraud Upon the Court

 

June 22, 2010

 By Jacksonville Foreclosure Team on June 22, 2010 8:14 AM |

 Initially M&T Bank claimed that they owned the Note which had been lost. M&T’s second claim was that they found the Note and owned it by assignment. The bank’s third claim was that they did not own the Note, but instead Wells Fargo owned the Note pursuant to an Allonge stamped by First National Bank of Nevada in 2009.

The court concluded that M&T Bank was attempting to commit a fraud upon the court for the following reasons: 1) Their three claims were all inconsistent with one another; 2) the First National Bank of Nevada could not have stamped the Allonge in 2009 because the FDIC had had closed that bank in 2008; and 3) the chain of title on the Allonge and the chain title on the Assignment were inconsistent.

With the overwhelming amount of Florida foreclosure lawsuits currently being filed, it has not been uncommon for the lenders to try to sneak one past the court and the homeowner.

If this type of fraud is not challenged by the homeowner it will oftentimes go unnoticed by the overburdened courts. Protect yourself by hiring a Florida Foreclosure Lawyer or Jacksonville Foreclosure Defense Lawyer  if you can afford it.  A Florida Foreclosure Lawyer will defend you against this and other types of fraud throughout the foreclosure process.

However, if you can’t afford an attorney, The Homeowners Revolt.Com is here to help you fight your mortgage WAR and WIN!

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Homeowner Gets Free House!

Posted by revolt | Homeowner Gets Free House! | Monday 16 August 2010 5:08 pm

HOMEOWNER GETS FREE HOUSE

 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Pasco county Florida resident, Ernest Harpster will be getting a “free house” based upon the ruling of Circuit Judge Lynn Tepper.

In an order dated March 25, 2010, Judge Tepper dismissed with prejudice the foreclosure lawsuit that was filed against Mr. Harpster by US Bank National Association as trustee for a securitized mortgage trust.

The judge’s ruling followed a hearing that was scheduled to be commenced at 3:00 p.m. According to the Court order, the law firm for the Bank of America, David Stern, P.A. failed to appear either in person or by phone for the hearing.

 The matters that were scheduled to be heard were a Motion to Compel Responses to Interrogatories and Request for Production; Amended Motions in Limine regarding the Promissory Note and a Second Motion in Limine/Motion to Strike based on an allegation of fraud on the court; and finally a Motion for Rehearing.”

The Court found that U.S. Bank’s counsel failed to produce answers to interrogatories (written questions to be answered under oath) for an astounding twenty-six (26) months.

The Defendant’s Motion in Limine/Motion to Strike was based on an allegation that the Assignment of Mortgage was created after the filing of the lawsuit, but the document date and date the document was notarized were purposely backdated by the Plaintiff to a date prior the filing of this foreclosure action.

The attorney for the homeowner discovered this apparent fraud because the assignment was allegedly signed and notarized on December 5, 2007. The notary’s stamp designating when the notary’s license expired had a May 19, 2012 expiration date.

Since Notary licenses are only good for four years, a notary license that expires on May 19, 2012 would have been issued four years earlier on Mary 19, 2008. As such the notary license would not have been issued and did not exist on December 5, 2007 when the assignment was alleged to have been executed.

According to the Court order, the notary who notarized the “back-dated” document was Terry Rice. Homeowners and their attorneys who have pending foreclosure cases should be on the lookout for other assignments and affidavits by Terry Rice which might be forged, fraudulent, or back-dated.

The court specifically found “that the purported Assignment did not exist at the time of filing of this action; that the purported Assignment was subsequently created and the execution date and notarial date were fraudulently backdated, in a purposeful intentional effort to mislead the Defendant and this Court.”

Judge Tepper ruled “The Plaintiff’s complaint is dismissed with prejudice, based on the fraud intentionally perpetrated upon the Court by the Plaintiff. This Court has the power to dismiss a case a showing of a commission of fraud on the Court by a party.”

She further ruled that “The Defendant shall go henceforth without day” which means that the Plaintiff, U.S. Bank will not recover any money and will note be able to re-file the lawsuit. Judge Tepper also ruled that U.S. Bank will have to pay the homeowner’s attorney’s fees.

Our law firm did not participate in this case. Usually I only write about cases our firm was involved in. This case is discussed so that the public becomes aware of the underhanded tactics some banks and some lawyers are using to wrongfully foreclosure on Floridians’ homes.

Unfortunately, Judge Tepper’s order did not include the name of the homeowner’s lawyer whose work was extraordinary. (Update we have since leaned that the homeowners lawyer was Tampa attorney Ralph Fisher)

This case illustrates what a tremendous difference a talented litigator can make. Some lawyers practice “foreclosure delay” and think that filing a motion for extension of time is sufficient to defend a foreclosure case.

At our firm, we listen to our clients to determine their objectives and design a strategy unique to their case and goals. Then we put that plan into action. When we defeat lender motions for summary judgment it is not by accident, rather it is because through discovery requests, depositions, and motions to compel we have obtained the evidence needed defeat the lender’s motion.

If you believe that an assignment of mortgage in your cases was fabricated or back-dated we will review the assignment on a complementary basis. If the assignment is dated after the date the foreclosure lawsuit was filed against you, the lawsuit should be dismissed.

To Homeowners with questions about this blog can contact the author at foreclosuredefenselaw@gmail.com. To view a complete copy of the Court’s order as a PDF / Adobe Acrobat document click here

For more information about Shuster & Saben‘s defense of homeowners in foreclosure in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Collier, Lee, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, Brevard, Orange, and Volusia counties please visit www.attorneyforeclosuredefense.com

Posted by Richard Shuster at 10:49 PM

Labels: assignement of mortgage, David Stern, Dismissal of foreclosure Action, foreclosure fraud, fraud on the court, P.A., Terry Rice, U.S. Bank, U.S. Bank as Trustee, US Bank

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