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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 06:05 PM Thread Starter
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Question More Troubles for Banks? Suspended Foreclosures Discussion

I found this to be an extremely interesting read. Long but worth it. Can anyone with real estate/mortgage experience confirm or deny any of these claims? http://www.zerohedge.com/article/gon...s-death-spiral

Submitted by Gonzalo Lira

The Second Leg Down of America’s Death Spiral

I swear to God Almighty: Mortgage Backed Securities are America’s Herpes—the gift that keeps on oozing.

Last Friday, Bank of America announced that it was suspending all foreclosure proceedings, presumably until further notice. Other banks have already suspended foreclosures in a whole truckload of states. A nationwide moratorium on foreclosures might soon happen—which would be a big deal: Global Financial Crisis, Part II—Longer, Wider and Uncut.

But the mainstream media—surprise-surprise—has downplayed the whole shebang. They’re throwing terms out there into the ether, but devoid of context or explanation: “Robo-signings”, “foreclosure mills”, forged signatures, “double booking”, MERS—it’s confusing as all get-out.

So the mainstream media just mentions it casually—“and in other news tonight . . .”—like it’s no big deal: A couple-three lines, lots of complicated, unfamiliar terms, an attitude like it’s a brouhaha over paperwork of all things!—and then zappo-presto-change-o!: They’re showing video footage of a cute koala nursing in the arms of a San Diego zookeeper.

But even the koalas know that something awful is heading America’s way. Smart little critters, they’re heading for the treetops, to get away from this mess.

So what the hell is going on with the God forsaken mortgage mess in the United States?

It’s got a lot of bells and whistles, but it’s basically quite simple: It’s all about the fucking Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS). Again.

So this is what happened, more or less—the short version:

In the crazed frenzy to get as many mortgages securitized during the Oughts, banks took shortcuts with the paperwork necessary for the Mortgage Backed Securities. The reason was because everyone in the chain of this securitization mania got a little piece of the action—a little slice of the MBS pie in the shape of commissions.

So in the name of “improved efficiencies” (and how many horror stories are we finding out, carried out in the name of “improved efficiencies”), banks digitized the mortgage notes—they didn’t physically endorse them, like they were supposed to by the various state and Federal laws.

Plus—once the wave of foreclosures broke, and the holes in this bureaucratic paperwork became evident and relevant—some of the big law firms handling the foreclosures for the banks started doing some document fabrication and signature forgery, in order to cover up the mistakes—which is definitely illegal.

Long story short (since this is the short version): A lot of the foreclosed properties might not have been foreclosed legally. The people evicted might still have a right to their old houses. The new buyers might not actually own the REO’s they bought off the banks. The banks could be on the hook for trillions of dollars, and in the sights of literally millions of lawsuits.

In short: This could become another massive oozing sore, complete with yellow-green pus drip-drip-dripping out of some unmentionable places on the Body Economic.

Now—the long version:

Homeowners can only be foreclosed and evicted from their homes by the person or institution who actually has the loan paper—only the note-holder has legal standing to ask a court to foreclose and evict. Not the mortgage—the note, which is the actual IOU that people sign, promising to pay back the mortgage loan.

Before Mortgage Backed Securities, most mortgage loans were issued by the local Savings & Loan. So the note usually didn’t go anywhere: It stayed in the offices of the S&L down the street.

But once mortgage loan securitization happened, things got sloppy—they got sloppy by the very nature of Mortgage Backed Securities.

The whole purpose of MBS’s was for different investors to have their different risk appetites satiated with different bonds. Some bond customers wanted super-safe bonds with low returns, some others wanted riskier bonds with therefore higher rates of return.

Therefore, as everyone knows, the loans were “bundled” into REMIC’s (Real-Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, a special vehicle designed to hold the loans for tax purposes), and then “sliced & diced”—split up and put into tranches, according to their likelihood of default, their interest rates, and other characteristics.

This slicing and dicing created “senior tranches”, where the loans would likely be paid in full, if past history of mortgage loan statistics was to be believed. And it also created “junior tranches”, where the loans might well default, again according to past history and statistics. (A whole range of tranches were created, of course, but for purposes of this discussion, we can ignore all those countless other variations.)

These various tranches were sold to different investors, according to their risk appetite. That’s why some of the MBS bonds were rated as safe as Treasury bonds, and others were rated by the ratings agencies as risky as junk bonds.

But here’s the key issue: When an MBS was first created, all the mortgages were pristine—none had defaulted yet, because they were all brand new loans. Statistically, some would default and some others would be paid back in full—but which ones specifically would default? No one knew, of course. If I toss a coin 1,000 times, statistically, 500 tosses the coin will land heads—but what will the result be of, say, the 723rd toss specifically? I dunno.

Same with mortgages.

So in fact, it wasn’t that the riskier loans were in junior tranches and the safer mortgage loans were in the senior tranches: Rather, all the loans were in all the tranches, and if and when a mortgage in a given bundle of mortgages defaulted, the junior tranche holders would take the losses first, and the senior tranche holder take the loss last.

But who was the owner of the junior tranche bond and the senior tranche bond? Two different people. Therefore, the mortgage note was not actually signed over to the bond holder. In fact, it couldn’t be signed over. Because, again, since no one knew which mortgage would default first, it was impossible to assign a specific mortgage to a specific bond.

Therefore, how to make sure the safe mortgage loan stayed with the safe MBS tranche, and the risky and/or defaulting mortgage went to the riskier MBS tranche?

Enter stage right, the famed MERS—the Mortgage Electronic Registration System.

MERS was the repository of these digitized mortgage notes that the banks originated from the actual mortgage loans signed by homebuyers. MERS was jointly owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (yes, those two, again, I know, I know: Like the chlamydia and the gonorrhea of the financial world—you cure ‘em, but they just keep coming back).

The purpose of MERS was to help in the securitization process. Basically, MERS directed defaulting mortgages to the appropriate tranches of mortgage bonds. MERS was essentially the operating table where the digitized mortgage notes were sliced and diced and rearranged so as to create the Mortgage Backed Securities. Think of MERS as Dr. Frankenstein’s operating table, where the beast got put together.

However, legally—and this is the important part—MERS didn’t hold any mortgage note: The true owner of the mortgage notes should have been the REMIC’s.

But the REMIC’s didn’t own the note either, because of a fluke of the ratings agencies: The REMIC’s had to be “bankruptcy remote”, in order to get the precious ratings needed to peddle Mortgage Backed Securities to insitutional investors.

So somewhere between the REMIC’s and the MERS, the chain of title was broken.

Now, what does “broken chain of title” mean? Simple: When a homebuyer signs a mortgage, the key document is the note. As I said before, it’s the actual IOU. In order for the mortgage note to be sold or transferred to someone else (and therefore turned into a Mortgage Backed Security), this document has to be physically endorsed to the next person. All of these signatures on the note are called the “chain of title”.

You can endorse the note as many times as you please—but you have to have a clear chain of title right on the actual note: I sold the note to Moe, who sold it to Larry, who sold it to Curly, and all our notarized signatures are actually, physically on the note, one after the other.

If for whatever reason, any of these signatures is skipped, then the chain of title is said to be broken. Therefore, legally, the mortgage note is no longer valid. That is, the person who took out the mortgage loan to pay for the house no longer owes the loan, because he no longer knows whom to pay.

To repeat: If the chain of title of the note is broken, then the borrower no longer owes any money on the loan.

Read that last sentence again, please. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.

You read it again? Good: Now you see the can of worms that’s opening up.

The broken chain of title wouldn’t have been an issue if there hadn’t been an unusual number of foreclosures. Before the housing bubble collapse, the people who defaulted on their mortgages wouldn’t have bothered to check to see that the paperwork was in order.

But as everyone knows, following the housing collapse of 2007–‘10-and-counting, there’s been a boatload of foreclosures—and foreclosures on a lot of people who weren’t sloppy bums who skipped out on their mortgage payments, but smart and cautious people who got squeezed by circumstances.

These people started contesting their foreclosures and evictions, and so started looking into the chain of title issue . . . and that’s when the paperwork became important. So the chain of title became important. So the botched paperwork became a non-trivial issue.

Now, the banks had hired “foreclosure mills”—law firms that specialized in foreclosures—in order to handle the massive volume of foreclosures and evictions that occurred because of the Housing Crisis. The foreclosure mills, as one would expect, were the first to spot the broken chain of titles.

Well, hell, whaddaya know—turns out that these foreclosure mills might have faked and falsified documentation, so as to fraudulently repair the chain-of-title issue, thereby “proving” that the banks had judicial standing to foreclose on a delinquent mortgage. These foreclosure mills might have even forged the loan note itself—

—wait, why am I hedging? The foreclosure mills actually, deliberately and categorically faked and falsified documents, in order to expedite these foreclosures and evictions. Yves Smith at naked capitalism, who has been all over this story, put up a price list for this “service” from a company called DocX—yes, a price list for forged documents. Talk about your one-stop shopping!

So in other words, a massive fraud was carried out, with the inevitable innocent bystander getting caught up in this fraud: The guy who got foreclosed and evicted from his home in Florida, even though he didn’t actually have a mortgage, and in fact owned his house free-and-clear. The family that was foreclosed and evicted, even though they had a perfect mortgage payment record. Et cetera, depressing et cetera.

Now, the reason this all came to light is not because enough people were getting screwed that the banks or the government or someone with power saw what was going on, and decided to put a stop to it—that would have been nice, to see a shining knight in armor, riding on a white horse.

But that’s not how America works nowadays.

No, alarm bells started going off when the title insurance companies started to refuse to insure the title.

In every sale, a title insurance company insures that the title is free-and-clear: That the prospective buyer is in fact buying a properly vetted house, with its title issues all in order. Title insurance companies stopped providing their service because—of course—they didn’t want to expose themselves to the risk that the chain-of-title had been broken, and that the bank had illegally foreclosed on the previous owner.

That’s when things started gettin’ innerestin’: That’s when the Attorneys General of various states started snooping around and making noises (elections are coming up, after all).

The fact that Ally Financial (formerly GMAC), JP Morgan Chase, and now Bank of America have suspended foreclosures signals that this is a serious problem—obviously. Banks that size, with that much exposure to foreclosed properties, don’t suspend foreclosures just because they’re good corporate citizens who want to do the right thing, with all the paperwork in strict order—they’re halting their foreclosures for a reason.

The move by the United States Congress last week, to sneak by the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act? That was all the banking lobby—they wanted to shove down that law, so that their foreclosure mills’ forged and fraudulent documents would not be scrutinized by out-of-state judges. (The spineless cowards in the Senate carried out their Master’s will by a voice vote—so that there’d be no registry of who had voted for it, and therefore no accountability, the corrupt pricks.)

And President Obama’s pocket veto of the measure? He had to veto it—if he’d signed it, there would have been political hell to pay, plus it would have been challenged almost immediately, and likely overturned as un-Constitutional in short order. (The jug-eared milquetoast didn’t even have the gumption to veto it—he pocket vetoed it.)

As soon as the White House announced the pocket veto—the very next day!—Bank of America halted all foreclosures, nationwide.

Why do you think that happened? Because the banks are screwed—again. By the same fucking thing as the last time—the fucking Mortgage Backed Securities!

The reason the banks are fucked again is, if they’ve been foreclosing on people they didn’t have the legal right to foreclose on, then those people have the right to get their houses back. And the people who bought those foreclosed houses from the bank might not actually own the houses they paid for.

And it won’t matter if a particular case—or even most cases—were on the up-and-up: It won’t matter if most of the foreclosures and evictions were truly because the homeowner failed to pay his mortgage. The fraud committed by the foreclosure mills casts enough doubt that now, all foreclosures come into question. Not only that, all mortgages come into question.

People still haven’t figured out what this all means—but I’ll tell you: If enough mortgage-paying homeowners realize that they may be able to get out of their mortgage loan and keep their house, scott-free? Shit, that’s basically a license to halt payments right the fuck now. That’s basically a license to tell the banks to fuck off.

What are the banks gonna do—try to foreclose and then evict you? Show me the paper, motherfucker, will be all you need to say.

This is a major, major crisis. This makes Lehman’s bankruptcy look like a spring rain, compared to this hurricane. And if this isn’t handled right—and handled right quick, in the next couple of weeks on the outside—this crisis could also spell the end of the mortgage business altogether. Of banking altogether. Hell, of civil society. What do you think happens in a country when the citizens realize they don’t need to pay their debts?

If this isn’t handled right, then this will be the second leg down, in the American Death Spiral...

Last edited by UserX; 10-14-2010 at 06:25 PM.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 06:34 PM Thread Starter
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Well shit, must be some truth to it, this could turn into a real fucked up situation in a hurry...

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 06:48 PM
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I work for a mortgage servicing company and we get a lot of the background on this stuff... No one knows who actually owns the loans anymore so the banks and servicers are left guessing and a lot of banks are just handing off the foreclosures to mill type lawyers who fill out 1000's of foreclosure docs a day. There is just so much fraud and misinformation getting shoved through the system...and the onus of proving otherwise in a lot of these cases is placed on the borrower. They are likely to not be in a position to fight back so they are just utterly abused.

It is going to get a lot uglier soon...

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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 07:59 PM
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Still researching, but this it's got all the makings of a clusterfuck...
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 08:40 PM
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Actually it may be a good thing.

Think about it like this, it slows the rate of foreclosures. There are fewer bank owned properties on the market, prices for homes increase somewhat, etc.

The downside is that the banks are going to take billions in losses on all this legal bullshit. JP Morgan estimated this week that it would be something like $3 billion. That is a lot but it is nothing compared to the shit they have had to endure for the past three years. Also, everyone knows this is coming and is getting ready for it. Hard to have a crisis when this has been shaping up for at least a couple of months now.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 06:53 AM
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Sounds like a clusterfuck. It doesn't suprise me at all. Whilst I don't think the economy is going to collaspe anytime soon, I do think that shit like this doesn't help it that much. Goes to show that banks, business, and Government are just trying to make the buck the fastest and they are not thinking long term at all. Should we be thinking long term?

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 07:37 AM
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I can only imagine how many people that shouldn't have been given loans in the first place will use this as an excuse to stop paying their note. If they aren't going to foreclose, what is the deterrent?
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 08:22 AM
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The only reason they are stopping the foreclosures (for now). They do not want to have to pay the taxes on the property's they would be in possession of at the end of the year.

This is just my opinion. I have no evidence to link too.



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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 08:56 AM
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I just hope the sheeple keep shorting the good banks because I have a few shares I'd like to buy before the economy improves.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:18 AM
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They are downplaying it until the Republicans get in office. Then it will explode and made to look the the Rep's caused it.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 09:42 AM Thread Starter
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I can only imagine how many people that shouldn't have been given loans in the first place will use this as an excuse to stop paying their note. If they aren't going to foreclose, what is the deterrent?
Not just foreclosure... but this is saying the mortgages got so screwed up that the chain of title was broken. So basically you no longer owe the bank anything and get your house free and clear.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 10:05 AM
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Not just foreclosure... but this is saying the mortgages got so screwed up that the chain of title was broken. So basically you no longer owe the bank anything and get your house free and clear.
I'd like to see that case go before the courts.

On a side note, the tidal wave called 'the end of personal responsibility' is getting to break.

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 11:02 AM
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I'd like to see that case go before the courts.

On a side note, the tidal wave called 'the end of personal responsibility' is getting to break.
The election of Obama is a direct result of "the end of personal responsibility"....

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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-15-2010, 11:10 AM
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Yup. But hey, look on the bright side. At least this make one of the "I don't have to worry about paying for my gas or my mortgage" lady's campaign wishes come true.

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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 05:45 AM
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part of me likes it when banks have trouble. i hope all those parasites suffer
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 09:24 AM Thread Starter
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I'd like to see that case go before the courts.

On a side note, the tidal wave called 'the end of personal responsibility' is getting to break.
Oh it's coming, there will be lots of cases I'm afraid. I hear ya on the tidal wave... I'm $30K from paying off my mortgage, how do you think I would feel if a bunch of people who couldn't make their payments got their homes back free & clear?

It's not just the broken chain of titles, but it seems that many documents were fraudulently created when this was realized.

So things got fucked up, then they illegally tried to cover it up. It could get very messy.
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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 10:04 AM
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Oh it's coming, there will be lots of cases I'm afraid. I hear ya on the tidal wave... I'm $30K from paying off my mortgage, how do you think I would feel if a bunch of people who couldn't make their payments got their homes back free & clear?

It's not just the broken chain of titles, but it seems that many documents were fraudulently created when this was realized.

So things got fucked up, then they illegally tried to cover it up. It could get very messy.
Believe me, I'd love nothing more than the banks that promoted financial stupidity to fail in a grand way. But I hear you. I'm making double house payments at the moment, and it sucks. Hopefully, as my house/land is for sale, the immediate removal of millions of houses off of the market will result in a faster sale.

I'm willing to bet there will be investigations into the banks use of psychologists to show that people will gladly throw plastic down instead of cash because they 'aren't spending hard currency'
Banks have also targeted the same market segment that tobacco companies did.

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 10:14 AM
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Oh it's coming, there will be lots of cases I'm afraid. I hear ya on the tidal wave... I'm $30K from paying off my mortgage, how do you think I would feel if a bunch of people who couldn't make their payments got their homes back free & clear?

It's not just the broken chain of titles, but it seems that many documents were fraudulently created when this was realized.

So things got fucked up, then they illegally tried to cover it up. It could get very messy.
I don't see anyone getting anything free and clear. At the end of the day the mortgage is still owed to SOMEONE. Their isn't a point in time where it isn't owed to someone.

What will happen is the transactions will have to undone to see who the real owner is. Then they can foreclose on the property. Banks that foreclosed without having all of the paperwork done correctly are going to get sued. But at the end of the day whoever owns the note is going to come right back in and get their money.
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 10:19 AM
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I don't see anyone getting anything free and clear. At the end of the day the mortgage is still owed to SOMEONE. Their isn't a point in time where it isn't owed to someone.

What will happen is the transactions will have to undone to see who the real owner is. Then they can foreclose on the property. Banks that foreclosed without having all of the paperwork done correctly are going to get sued. But at the end of the day whoever owns the note is going to come right back in and get their money.
Or the government will jump in with some new regulations to both prop up the banks and to stem attempts to game this situation by mortgage holders. There is no way that the government is going to stand by and let banks fail over this.
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post #21 of 21 (permalink) Old 10-16-2010, 11:06 AM
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Articles like that are more of a problem than everything mentioned in them. None of that stuff is inherently bad, it's the incompetent people working at the banks. When I was trying to buy a house I found a short sale through Bank of America. It took them 193 days of stringing me along with me doing everything requested (on the day it was requested) to decide they "lost" my offer, move the house into foreclosure and then open it up to 7 other offers. So I ended up buying a house two streets over from a nice couple that couldn't afford the payments anymore (but were current at the time).

As the article mentioned title companies will not insure the title if they're not 100% certain of the chain. All these people that think they can stop paying and own their house free and clear because the chain of title isn't there will be out of luck when they try to sell the house because the attorneys for the mortgage companies will not write up the documents for the loan until the title issue is figured out. "So what? I'll just pay cash for the house." How many of you actually have cash to pay for a house right now?

While I agree it would be nice to remove a lot of the inventory of homes right now, all these foreclosures will just become shadow inventory that will be dumped in a few years, probably right when the economy starts to recover and could cause the dreaded double dip. I'd like to see it get sorted out now and be done with it (but of course I'm not carrying two notes and don't plan to sell this house for quite a few years).

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