Oregon foreclosures of residential properties will likely be shifting from nonjudicial to judicial process, and the shift has already begun with some servicers, namely Wells Fargo and its subsidiaries. Oregon is one of 24 states that provides a nonjudicial foreclosure process, which is how most delinquent residential mortgages are foreclosed since this has been a faster and cheaper process for lenders.

One reason for the shift to more judicial court actions is because judges have started blocking nonjudicial foreclosures for failure of lenders to record ownership history of the trust deeds, as required for nonjudicial foreclosure. The shift will mean that the process will possibly take longer to clear titles following the sheriff sales. It will also take lenders considerable time to review and shift gears on pending foreclosures. Lenders may decide the cost and time expense are worth more certainty with the judicial process.

The good news for borrowers subject to the judicial foreclosure process is they will now have a judge to hear their complaints, if they challenge the filing. This right is currently unavailable unless a lawsuit is filed by the borrower to stop a nonjudicial process from continuing forward. However, under a judicial foreclosure, if homeowners don’t challenge a filing, the lenders could get a sale date more quickly and possibly expedite the process. It also does not require the recordation of beneficiary history, so it can result in cleaning up any messy title situations the lender may face. This means a defaulting borrower will need a good defense in order to realistically challenge a judicial foreclosure, but the court will have to make a decision before the foreclosure can happen. There could be more opportunities for workouts and settlements too.

One huge risk is that, currently, Oregon law protects homeowners from being pursued by lenders for their losses for homes that sold for less than the balance on the loan. However, if a lender pursues judicial foreclosure, if someone moves out of the home before the foreclosure complaint is filed, they could lose this protection and may be personally liable for the deficiency. (This problem is going to be fixed by a new law that goes into effect soon). Homeowners will also lose the right to cure, which gives them up to 5 days prior to a nonjudicial auction sale date to pay the missed payments and lender fees to end the foreclosure; but they will gain the right of redemption under the judicial process which gives them up to six months to repurchase the home for what it sold for at the foreclosure sale. This could mean homes will be vacant for longer periods and be difficult to immediately resell.


Homeowners who lost their homes to foreclosure may need to commit perjury to get restitution payments though the settlement.  That would be the deepest kind of insult on injury.

In the last blog, I explained what a homeowner who lost a home to foreclosure (from 2008 through 2011) will have to assert to get his or her small share of that $1.5 billion pot of money:

1. “Borrower lost the home to foreclosure while attempting to save the home through a loan modification or other loss mitigation effort.”

2. “Servicer errors or misconduct in the loss mitigation or foreclosure processes affected the borrower’s ability to save the home.”

While these may seem superficially sensible, in practice they are very troublesome, especially because the statements must be made under penalty of perjury.

As to the first statement, what “other loss mitigation effort” “to save the home” will be considered sufficient to be able to make that statement? Must that effort have continued right up to the foreclosure date to be considered to have “lost the home to foreclosure while attempting to save the home”?  How is the former homeowner to know whether he or she can make this statement truthfully?

The second statement is even more of a problem. How can the former homeowner know whether “servicer errors or misconduct in the loss mitigation or foreclosure processes affected the borrower’s ability to save the home”? The robo-signing of foreclosure documents—mortgage servicers’ false assertions made under oath by the thousands—were only discovered through borrowers’ attorneys’  aggressive discovery efforts during litigation. In this nationwide settlement, the five banks are not admitting ANY wrongdoing or liability. (For example, see the non-admission clause in the Federal Release, Exhibit F in the Wells Fargo settlement documents, paragraph F on page F-11, which is page 232 of the 315 pages of those documents.) Presumably the banks are not now going to start admitting wrongdoing on a case-by-case basis so that borrowers can answer this statement accurately.

So to receive the restitution payment a former homeowner will have to sign a statement under penalty of perjury affirming the truthfulness of one statement that is so vague as to be in many situations meaningless, and the truthfulness of a second statement the accuracy of which is unknowable.

There may yet be a partial solution, to at least the first required statement about the extent of borrowers’ efforts to save the home. The claim form to be sent out to the borrowers’ by the yet-undesignated Settlement Administrator may give enough guidance about this. A tentative 3-page claim form has been prepared by the Monitoring Committee for possible use by the Settlement Administrator. It may create a bright line between qualifying and non-qualifying borrower efforts. We don’t know yet because although this tentative claim form is being made available for companies applying to become the Settlement Administrator (the application deadline is April 30, 2012), it is not being released to anyone else.

But even so, I see no conceivable way that the second statement about “servicer error or misconduct” can be made known to the borrowers in order for them to be able to assert that under penalty of perjury. The banks are not going to admit to wrongdoing as to two million or so homeowners in direct contradiction of their non-liability assertion in the settlement documents.

So here’s the moral irony:

1. The banks were accused by the federal government and 49 states of a long list of allegations of serious wrongdoing which take 10 pages to detail (see pages F-2 through F-11 of the Federal Release in the settlement documents referred to above). These allegations include fraud and misrepresentations of numerous kinds, including in the form of many thousands of perjured documents submitted to courts over an extended period of time. The banks do not admit to any of these allegations or to any resulting liability.

2. Now the banks have negotiated with the governmental entities to pay restitution for their extensive alleged wrongdoing, and in particular to homeowners who’ve already lost their homes to foreclosure. But as a precondition to receiving that restitution, these former homeowners will in many cases be faced with a moral dilemma: can they sign a statement under penalty of perjury asserting that their “ability to save the home” was affected by “servicer errors or misconduct” when they do not know whether such errors or misconduct happened as to their mortgage, and if so whether it had any effect on their “ability to save the home.”

3. Because the “Monitoring Committee” has made clear that the “Settlement Administrator” will not be required to get documentation from borrowers about their statements on the claim forms, borrowers are seemingly being encouraged to make statements that will in many cases be vague and factually unverifiable, while asserting the truthfulness and accuracy of those statements under penalty of perjury.

4. The banks, having admitted to no fault, having paid their modest penalty, and having foisted this moral conundrum onto the foreclosed borrowers, can now wash their hands entirely of the matter. They no longer care how each borrower handles the matter since the pot of money does not change. The money just shifts out of the hands of the perhaps more carefully honest borrowers who disqualify themselves by admitting that they cannot swear to the fact that they lost the property because of lender wrongdoing.

5. Thus this settlement process has lowered borrowers—through circumstances almost entirely outside their control—to the moral level of the original robo-signers: “just sign here and don’t worry what the statements say or what they mean.”

What qualifies you to receive the $1,500 to $2,000 restitution payment for losing your home to foreclosure? More clues have just become available.

 The “largest consumer financial protection settlement in US history,” the $26 billion national mortgage fraud settlement, was announced with great fanfare in February. More than a month later, on March 12, 2012, the details of the settlement were finalized and hundreds of pages of settlement documents were signed and finally made public. But all those pages still did not at all make clear how a person whose home was foreclosed will qualify to get the money.

To remind you about this, most of the money in this settlement is earmarked for current homeowners for loan modifications, refinances, and other ways to help them hold on to their homes. But just shy of $1.5 billion is for those who’ve already had their homes foreclosed. That’s the subject of this blog.

This part of the settlement applies only to:

  • foreclosures that occurred during the calendar years 2008 through 2011
  • mortgages held or serviced by Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial/GMAC and CitiGroup and their affiliates
  • mortgages on which at least 3 payments were made and the property “was not abandoned by the homeowner or condemned prior to the time of the foreclosure sale” 
  • “owner-occupied, one-to-four unit” residence in all states except for Oklahoma, which is not participating in this settlement

Find out if your mortgage is included in this settlement pool by going to the special settlement website for the banks’ toll-free phone numbers and websites.

But once you are in this pool, what further conditions, must you meet to get the money? The initial settlement documents last month surprisingly did not make this clear. They just stated that “cash payments” from the $1.5 billion fund would be provided to borrowers whose homes were foreclosed during the 2008 through 2011 period and “who submit claims arising from the Covered Conduct [the alleged mortgage servicing and foreclosure fraud]; and who otherwise meet criteria set forth by the State members of the Monitoring Committee.”

So if you are a foreclosed homeowner, do you only get the settlement money if you can show your foreclosure happened because of your bank’s alleged misconduct? Has the “Monitoring Committee” provided any more information on this or any other criteria to be used?

Two and a half months after the February 9 announcement of the settlement, there is still no definite answer to the first question. And the second question? The 14 state attorneys general on the “Monitoring Committee” has curiously not directly told foreclosed homeowners anything more about the qualifying criteria, apparently because that will be the job of the “Settlement Administrator.” But in the last few days this Committee HAS indirectly provided some important clues about the criteria through its release of two documents:

The RFP states the following:

Borrower Certifications:

In addition to the baseline eligibility criteria listed above, eligible claimants must also complete a claim certification form in which they certify under penalty of perjury to the following:

  • Borrower lost the home to foreclosure while attempting to save the home through a loan modification or other loss mitigation effort.
  • Servicer errors or misconduct in the loss mitigation or foreclosure processes affected the borrower’s ability to save the home.

But those two requirements are not clear either. What would be considered an adequate attempt by the borrower to save the home? For example, if you simply made a number of unsuccessful attempts to get the lender to respond to phone messages—would that be enough? And how are you going to know when a bank’s misconduct “affected” your ability to save the home when the bank is providing you that kind of information and not admitting anything? Indeed, in this entire multi-billion dollar settlement the banks are not admitting to a single act of misconduct!

The First Addendum—released just a few days ago on April 20—gives some further clues, albeit maddening ones. Here is a pertinent question from the Addendum and the Monitoring Committee’s response:

Question #12: Will the Settlement Administrator be required to request and review documentary proof from claimants who submit claim certification forms in order to determine eligibility?

Answer: No. Other than reviewing the claim certification forms to ensure that claimants properly made the required certifications, the Settlement Administrator will not be required to request and review documentary proof from claimants in order to determine eligibility.

So to receive the settlement money, it looks like you as a foreclosed homeowner will have to sign a claim form stating under penalty of perjury that the foreclosure occurred in spite of you efforts to save the home, AND the foreclosure occurred because of the bank’s “errors or misconduct”—which you may well have no way of knowing about. But, it looks like you will not need to provide any documentation to verify your statements. It is unclear whether information will be provided by your bank to the Settlement Administrator which might contradict your statements—for example asserting that you did not attempt to contact the bank to try to save the home. And if that occurs, there’s also no indication how such disputed facts would be resolved.

Stay tuned here, and on the settlement website, for answers to these continuing ambiguities.

Under new rules coming on line, HARP is now available for refinances no matter how far your home is underwater. The 125% loan-to-value cap is no more.

The purpose of the Home Affordable Refinance Program has been to enable homeowners who could not otherwise qualify for a refinance do so, thereby getting a lower interest rate and lower monthly payment, making more likely that they could afford to stay in their homes. 

Until this revamped version of HARP, homeowners could not qualify if their existing mortgage was more than 125% of the value of their home. In the new improved version announced way back in October, this condition was eliminated. But it has taken until a few weeks ago for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to release their formal guidelines, update their approval software, and start getting lenders on board.

In this blog I will give you a short list of the main conditions for HARP 2.0 eligibility, and then provide a few good sources for more detailed information.  


1. Your mortgage loan must be owned or guaranteed by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. Why? Because these entities were effectively taken over by the government near the beginning of the real estate market crash, and so the federal government can require them to follow new refinancing rules. HARP operates through Fannie and Freddie, and so loans owned by private lenders aren’t in the program. However, a large majority of home mortgages are held by Fannie or Freddie, so there’s a good chance yours is as well. You can find out by checking these two websites:  or (If you instead you have a VA, FHA, or USDA home loan, they each have their own refinancing programs.)

2. Your loan must have been sold to Fannie or Freddie on or before May 31, 2009.

3. Your loan was not refinanced through HARP previously. No second bites at this apple. One small exception—if you happened to refinance your Fannie Mae mortgage from March through May of 2009. Also, prior non-HARP refinances are not a problem.

4. Your current loan-to-value must be greater than 80%. Although HARP is not limited to underwater loans, you can’t have more than 20% equity. Presumably, homes with an equity cushion are either more likely to be refinanced on the private market, and any event their owners will be motivated to preserve their equity. The point of HARP is to enable refinances which could not otherwise happen, and to give help and motivation to homeowners who have little or no equity.

5. Must be current on the mortgage—no late payments in the last 6 months, maximum of 1 in the last 12 months. Given that this program will leave the homeowner with a loan with little or no equity, and often with serious negative equity, the borrower must show a very clean recent payment history. However, many other requirements have been loosened, for example automated appraisals will be permitted instead of needing on-site ones (since the home value is not important here), and income verification will be less often required, making self-employed people more likely eligible.

CAUTION: Lenders have a fair amount of discretion to alter these rules, so refer to your lender for the details, and it may well be worth shopping for eligibility and better refinance terms.

Resources for More Information

1.  A good general new story about the HARP changes, from the website edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

2. The best detailed description I could find of the new program, in a website called

3. Some experts’ opinions about the impact of HARP 2.0 in a Wall Street Journal blog.

4. A HARP 2.0 eligibility calculator on

Will Fannie and Freddie finally be making mortgage principal reductions now that their own analysis shows that doing so would benefit their own financial health—and make them better able to repay billions owed to U.S. taxpayers?

My last blog described Fannie and Freddie’s conflicting purposes: to make home ownership more accessible, but to do so profitably for themselves. And I showed how this inherent conflict has led to a political dispute between the Obama Administration on one side pushing for greater flexibility in helping distressed homeowners keep their homes—and specifically to allow principal reductions, while on the other side Edward DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) and Fannie and Freddie’s overseer, disallowing principal reductions in order “to preserve and conserve [Fannie and Freddie’s] assets.”

Helping Homeowners Also Helps Taxpayers

But what if there is no conflict between these purposes? What if reducing mortgage balances would help hundreds of thousands of homeowners stay in their homes and at the same time would save money for Fannie and Freddie?  

That is the conclusion of a very recent not-yet public analysis by Fannie and Freddie presented to the FHFA, according to the ProPublica article: “Fannie and Freddie: Slashing Mortgages Is Good Business.”

The new analyses by Freddie and Fannie were done to assess the new financial incentives that the Obama administration announced in late January.  … . The companies now find that reducing principal on troubled mortgages has a “positive net present value” — in other words, that doing it would bring in more money for the companies over the life of the loans than not doing it.

The two companies’ analyses showed that upwards of a quarter million borrowers who owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth could benefit from principal reductions. The companies would take a loss upfront, but over the long run these mortgage modifications would save the companies money because they would lead to lower default rates.

FHFA’s Response

DeMarco is thinking about it. In a statement he said:

“As I have stated previously, FHFA is considering HAMP incentives for principal reduction and we have been having discussions with [Freddie and Fannie] and Treasury regarding our analysis.”

But he also stated:

“FHFA’s previously released analysis concluded that principal forgiveness did not provide benefits that were greater than principal forbearance as a loss mitigation tool. FHFA’s assessment of the investor incentives now being offered will follow the previous evaluation, including consideration of the eligible universe, operational costs to implement such changes, and potential borrower incentive effects.”

DeMarco seems to be saying that this new analysis may well not change their policy. Why not? After looking at all their options (“the eligible universe”), and considering how borrowers would react to principal reductions (“incentive effects”), it seems to come down to “operational costs”—changes to their accounting and computer systems—which could outweigh the other benefits. It just might be too hard to change Fannie and Freddie’s operations so that principal reductions would work for them.

The Bigger Picture      

So is the FHFA so institutionally ingrained with the short-term profit motive that it would reject Fannie and Freddie’s own conclusions about principal reductions being good for their long term financial health? Does it have SO little ability to adapt? Does the FHFA have such tunnel vision that it can’t give any consideration to the potential benefits to the national housing market, where home values STILL continue to slide? And where in DeMarco’s comments is there any hint whatsoever of compassion for the millions of Americans—about half of them under his control—at continued risk of losing their homes?

The bankruptcy world played a quiet but significant role in bringing about this controversial $26 billion settlement. So, fittingly, the settlement terms require the banks to make significant changes in their behavior in bankruptcy court.

Before leaving my current series of blogs on this mortgage settlement, I had to tell you about its bankruptcy angles.

The bankruptcy courts are where some of the earliest signs of bank misconduct appeared. For many years before the “robo-signing” scandal broke in the fall of 20010, mortgage lenders had been making a bad name for themselves in bankruptcy court with shoddy accounting and loose paperwork. Unlike most foreclosures—judicial or non-judicial—in which homeowners do not have attorneys representing them, the majority of homeowners in bankruptcy do have attorneys. So when, for example, mortgage lenders try to get “relief from stay”–permission to foreclose on a home under bankruptcy protection—the homeowner has both a convenient forum—the bankruptcy court—and an advocate who can point out to the court that the lender has not credited all the payments, that it has misplaced payments in some “suspense account,” and/or that it hasn’t even provided its own attorney with accurate accounting information or documentation.  

The bankruptcy system also had another player with a major role, as U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder highlighted when he announced the settlement last month:

The U.S. Trustees Program, which serves as the watchdog of all bankruptcy court operations, was one of the first federal agencies to investigate mortgage servicer abuse of homeowners in financial distress.  As part of their investigation, Trustees reviewed more than 37,000 documents filed by major mortgage servicers in federal bankruptcy court – and took discovery in more than 175 cases across the country. 

Accordingly, the Complaint filed against the banks as part of this settlement documentation includes a major section on “The Banks’ Bankruptcy-Related Misconduct,” listing 15 distinct types of misconduct. (See pages 34-38 of the Complaint.)

And each bank’s Consent Judgment contains a series of requirements related to their bankruptcy procedures. (See the Ally Financial/GMAC Mortgage/Residential Capital ”Consent Judgment” here, along with its exhibits, totaling more than 300 pages. The other banks’ Consent Judgments can be found here.)

Here is an example of some of the requirements, as applicable to the banks’ filing of proofs of claim (“POC”) in bankruptcy court, which they file to establish the nature and amount of a debt:

The lender “shall ensure that each POC is documented by attaching:

a. The original or a duplicate of the note, including all indorsements; a copy of any mortgage or deed of trust securing the notes (including, if applicable, evidence of recordation in the applicable land records); and copies of any assignments of mortgage or deed of trust required to demonstrate the right to foreclose on the borrower’s note under applicable state law  … .


f. The POC shall be signed (either by hand or by appropriate electronic signature) by the responsible person under penalty of perjury after reasonable investigation, stating that the information set forth in the POC is true and correct to the best of such responsible person’s knowledge, information, and reasonable belief, and clearly identify the responsible person’s employer and position or title with the employer.”

These requirements strike at the rampant problems with insufficient documentation and authorization, including assignments and recordings.  There are similar rules applicable to motions for relief from stay, about fees charged by lenders during Chapter 13 cases, and their loss mitigation behavior during bankruptcy.

Remember that this national mortgage settlement does NOT settle or waive any “claims and defenses asserted by third parties, including individual mortgage loan borrowers on an individual or class basis.” (See the Federal Release, Exhibit F, p. 42, and the State Release, Exhibit G, p. 10, in the Ally Financial “Consent Judgment,” by way of example.) In effect that means that debtors in bankruptcy are not limited by the settlement from pursuing mortgage lenders for their violations of bankruptcy law, including those laws referred to in this settlement. These lenders simply also have their feet to the fire for the next three and a half years while the settlement is in effect and they are being monitored for compliance with its requirements.

Most of the $26 billion or so in this national settlement is designed to help current homeowners keep their homes. But $1.5 billion of it will go to about 750,000 who have already lost their homes to foreclosure. That’s about $2,000 each.

Who’s included?

  • The entire settlement—including this foreclosure cash restitution payment—applies only to mortgages held by the five biggest home mortgage holders and their subsidiaries: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, J.P. Morgan Chase, Ally Financial/GMAC and Citi. To contact these banks to find out if your mortgage is included, go to the special website for this settlement for their toll-free phone numbers and websites. (See the right column, under “Settlement Parties.”)
  • Your home must have been “finally sold or taken in foreclosure between and including January 1, 2008 and December 31, 2011.”
  • One state–Oklahoma—did not join in this settlement, so foreclosed homeowners in Oklahoma are not eligible for this payment.

 What are the conditions for receiving the money?

  • Although one section of the settlement website states that there’s “no requirement to prove financial harm,” the Executive Summary on the same website adds that eligible borrowers are those “who were not properly offered loss mitigation or who were otherwise improperly foreclosed on.” Sounds like some showing of improper servicing or foreclosure behavior by the bank will be required, without a need to prove that this behavior necessarily caused you financial harm. But exactly what information or evidence will be required is not clear yet.  
  • What is clear is that former homeowners will not need to release any potential claims against their mortgage holder in order to receive the money. The payment received would, however, be credited as an offset against any such other claim against the bank.

What’s the procedure and timetable?

  • Within about 90 days, a Settlement Administrator will be selected “to administer the distribution of cash to individual borrowers.”
  • Over the following six to nine months, that Administrator will work with the banks to identify the eligible former homeowners, and send out letters to them to apply for the payment.
  • If you are concerned about the Administrator having your current address, you should contact your Attorney General’s Office to have it send your address to the Administrator.
  • The amount to be distributed to each foreclosed homeowner will depend on how many people qualify and apply. And since the $1.5 billion or so pool of money paid by the banks towards these for payments also pays for “all the costs and expenses of the Administrator,” that reduces what will be available for the homeowners. (The actual amount of the pool, by the way, is actually exactly $1,489,813,925.00—I do not know the reason for that odd amount!).

Senate Bill 1552B (passed by the House Rules committee unanimously) would provide key protections toOregonhomeowners. The B engrossed bill includes most provisions of SB 1552 and SB 1564 as passed by the Senate and would provide strong foreclosure protection toOregonhomeowners. The B engrossed bill contains the following elements:

  • Mandatory Meeting with Distressed Homeowners – Requires lenders to meet with homeowners who are underwater to discuss alternatives to foreclosure with a third party mediator upon borrower request.
  • Mediation for Homeowners in Default – Requires lenders to meet face to face with homeowners in default to negotiate possible alternatives prior to foreclosing, unless homeowner chooses to opt-out. 
  • Housing Counseling – Requires a homeowner visit a housing counselor prior to proceeding with mediation.
  • Fast Track to Mediation – If the homeowner is unable to get an appointment with a housing counselor within 30 days, the housing counselor requirement is waived so the homeowner can proceed directly to mediation.
  • Advance Notification – Notice of mediation must be sent 60 days prior to the notice of sale, which is 180 days before a bank can sell a home in foreclosure. The existing 120 day timeline from notice of default to foreclosure sale remains.
  • Authority to Negotiate – Banks must send someone to mediation that has the authority to accept or reject proposals for foreclosure avoidance measures. If good cause is shown, the mediator may allow the lender’s representative to attend the mediation by other means.
  • Attorney General Oversight – Directs the Attorney General to draft rules and oversee the foreclosure mediation program.
  • No Cost to Homeowner – Allows mediator to waive cost of mediation to homeowner.
  • Exception for Small Lenders – Lenders doing fewer than 250 foreclosures a year (including those filed by affiliates or agents) are exempt from the mediation requirements.
  • End to “Dual Tracking” – Prohibits banks from “dual tracking” homeowners (renegotiating loan terms with homeowners while at the same time  pursuing foreclosure) by only allowing a lender to foreclose if:
  1. The borrower has violated a current foreclosure avoidance agreement, or;
  2. The borrower is not eligible for any foreclosure avoidance measure.
  • Proper Notice – Once a lender has determined it can foreclose, it must provide the homeowner with notice 30 days before the foreclosure date is scheduled. If the sale is postponed, the lender must provide the homeowner at least 15 days’ notice of the new date.                                                                                                                                                                  
  • Right to Damages – A violation of dual tracking provision is liable for a $500 fine, actual damages incurred by the homeowner, and reasonable attorney fees to the prevailing plaintiff.
  • Cloud on the Title – Violation of either mediation or dual track provisions would create a cloud on the home’s title that would prevent a bank from selling an illegally foreclosed upon property.

The  Oregon senate bill 1552 is expected to be signed by Governor Kitzhaber.  Once that happens, these new provisions become effective 91 days thereafter.  

The main thing this does is set up a whole new state-run system of foreclosure workout mediation, which is a pre-requisite to all non-judicial foreclosures by any lending institution which conducts at least 250 of them in a year (so all big banks/servicers are subject).  It requires them to be physically present at the mediation together with authority to negotiate a deal and information such as borrower’s complete payment history, copy of actual note, and chain of title of trust deed.  Interestingly, it also appears to allow for a borrower who is in danger of defaulting to pro-actively make a request for this loan workout mediation ahead of any foreclosure notice being filed by the lender.   This could potentially open up a whole new avenue to getting loan modifications, short sales, and other workout options accomplished.

One other significant new provision is the new law will eliminate any possibility for deficiency in a residential trust deed foreclosure action so long as the borrower (or immediate family) lives in the property at the time of the initial DEFAULT leading to the foreclosure.  This is significant because under the current law, in order to receive this protection, the borrower must live in the property at the time the foreclosure action is commenced, which could be a lot later.  This will make it a lot easier for people to abandon properties to foreclosure without worry of deficiency if they wish to do so.

Two more really significant things in here I forgot to point out earlier:

1)      No more “dual tracking” – basically designed to stop lender from negotiating a workout while at the same time pursuing foreclosure – people will know one way or the other and should reduce those situations where the servicer says everything is coming along great, and then they find out the house was foreclosed on the same day, etc.

2)      This one is similar – lender must re-notify by serving a written notice of any postponement of auction which is either greater than 2 days from initial date or more than one postponement.  This will also eliminate the situation where borrower thinks the auction was cancelled, but really was just postponed by oral proclamation at the time, and no further notice ever required to be given.  This will change that quirky and dangerous system of the past.

The remainder appears to be a lot of language and syntax cleanup of the existing statute.


The settlement documents of the deal that was announced more than a month ago were finally completed and filed at court on Monday, March 12. They catalog page after page of serious wrongdoing by the banks in their servicing of mortgages and processing of foreclosures.

In my last blog I said that the settlement would be finalized and made public “any day now.” It actually happened only hours later.

The settlement documents consist of hundreds of pages, but I’ll make it easy for you.

One document talks about the past, the wrongdoing by the banks. That’s the Complaint. The plaintiffs are the United States, 49 of the 50 states (all except Oklahoma), and the District of Columbia; the defendants are five of the biggest banks—Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi, and Ally/GMAC, and their subsidiaries, totaling 18 named defendants. This 99-page Complaint is the subject of today’s blog.

The rest of the documents—one Consent Judgment for each of the five banks—talk about the agreed penalties for the banks’ past wrongdoing, but mostly focus on the future: 1) where the money from those penalties is going to be spent; and 2) the new standards by which these banks are now required to service mortgages and process foreclosures.  In my next blog I’ll talk about these penalties, and how they are supposed to help homeowners who have been hurt by the banks.

To say that the Complaint is 99 pages long is misleading, because it actually ends on page 48, followed by signature pages for each of the 51 plaintiffs. And In fact the document doesn’t really get to the point until the Factual Allegation starting on page 21. The detailed litany of bank misconduct goes on relentlessly for the following 16 pages, totaling 55 paragraphs of allegations, some including many subparagraphs of even more detailed allegations. It’s difficult to do justice to all this in one blog. To try to show both the breadth and depth of the alleged misconduct, I’ll give you most of the Complaint’s outline of the types of wrongdoing, and one or two examples quoted under each one:

A. The Banks’ Servicing Misconduct

            1. The Banks’ Unfair, Deceptive, and Unlawful Servicing Processes

Failing to timely and accurately apply payments made by borrowers and failing to maintain accurate account statements; imposing force-placed insurance without properly notifying the borrowers and when borrowers already had adequate coverage.

             2. The Banks’ Unfair, Deceptive, & Unlawful Loan Modification and Loss Mitigation Processes

Providing false or misleading information to consumers while initiating foreclosures where the borrower was in good faith actively pursuing a loss mitigation alternative offered by the Bank; miscalculating borrowers’ eligibility for loan modification programs and improperly denying loan modification relief to eligible borrowers.

   3. Wrongful Conduct Related to Foreclosures

Preparing, executing, notarizing or presenting false and misleading documents, filing false and misleading documents with courts and government agencies, or otherwise using false or misleading documents as part of the foreclosure process (including, but not limited to affidavits, declarations, certifications, substitutions of trustees, and assignments).

 B. The Banks’ Origination Misconduct

   1. Unfair and Deceptive Origination Practices

In the course of their origination of mortgage loans in the Plaintiff States, the Banks have engaged in a pattern of unfair and deceptive practices. Among other consequences, these practices caused borrowers in the Plaintiff States to enter into unaffordable mortgage loans that led to increased foreclosures in the States.

 C. The Banks’ Bankruptcy-Related Misconduct

Making representations that were inaccurate, misleading, false, or for which the Banks, at the time, did not have a reasonable basis to make, including without limitation representations contained in proofs of claim under 11 U.S.C. § 501, motions for relief from the automatic stay under 11 U.S.C. § 362, or other documents.

 D. Violation of Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The Banks foreclosed upon mortgages without required court orders on properties that were owned by service members who, at the time, were on military service or were otherwise protected by the SCRA.

 The 55 paragraphs of wrongdoing resulted in these five banks agreeing to pay about $26 billion in a combination of cash and other forms, to the states and to individual homeowners. As I said, I’ll tell you how this is supposed to be divvied up in my next blog.

A federal judge has yet again issued a ruling that effectively questions the validity of scores of foreclosures in Oregon, a crisis the Legislature could resolve in the mortgage industry’s favor this week if bank lobbyists and House Republican leaders have their way.

In an opinion issued Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon rejected a magistrate judge’s finding and rulings by two of his colleagues that big banks could avoid recording notices in local land records each time a loan is sold to other lenders or investors.

 Simon sided with two other federal judges in Oregon in ruling that lenders have violated state recording law. They’ve done this, they say, by logging sales within its nationwide Mortgage Electronic Systems Inc. and declaring MERS a “beneficiary” of the loan.

The mortgage industry created MERS to reduce the need for recording loan sales, or assignments. That enabled mortgages to be quickly bundled and sold to investors. MERS does not loan money, collect loan payments or invest in mortgages. It is, however, named in certain loan documents as the mortgagee or beneficiary of record.

Simon ruled that under state law, lenders must file a notice in county records each time they sell or transfer a note, or a promise from a borrower to pay.

MERS, he ruled, can file those notices on the lenders’ behalf, if a lender has authorized it to do so. MERS cannot, however, simply log those notices within its own database without also recording it publicly, he found. In millions of loans nationwide, it has.

In acting as he did, Simon overruled lower Magistrate Janice Stewart’s previous findings and recommendations in the case. His ruling also conflicts with opinions in other cases issued by his equals in Oregon — Judge Michael Mosman and Judge Marco A. Hernandez.

But it aligns with rulings in other cases by Judge Owen Panner and U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Frank Alley. Panner’s ruling, which also came last year as lawmakers debated the MERS issue, is on appeal to the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals.

-Excerpt taken from  Brent Hunsberger, The Oregonian @

See full story here