Big banks have stopped foreclosures in 23 states due to legal challenges to their ownership of mortgage notes. On Wednesday, JP Morgan upped their total to 41 states in which foreclosure operations had ceased.
Why the halt in foreclosures? It seems that the banks have ignored long established state property and title procedures and may not actually own the title to the homes subject to foreclosure (and others subject to the same procedures).
Calculated Risk quoted a JP Morgan spokesman saying,
"We've identified issues relating to the mortgage foreclosure affidavits and those include signers not having personally reviewed the underlying loan files but instead having relied upon the work of others. " And there are circumstances where affidavits have not been properly notarized" Oct. 13.
Failing to "personally review" loan documents means that asserting that the review took place was perjury. This happened for countless mortgages. Failing to properly notarize mortgage signatures violates state property law. It could also be seen as negligence by investors in the mortgages, as well.
ForclosureGate - Shock and Awe
Those who saw the foreclosure and eviction movement around the country as inevitable may be in awe at this development. Citizens may be able to keep their homes longer, avoid eviction, and regroup financially. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) was prophetic at the start of 2009 when she outlined what turned into a stunningly successful legal strategy.
The shock side of the equation is all bad news and getting worse by the day and week. The in ability of banks to foreclose could lead to chaos in the real estate market resulting in even lower property values.
Another shock wave is slamming into investors worldwide who hold over $2 trillion in Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS). They're watching the underlying viability of their investment attacked by homeowners who are challenging the legality of mortgages, state courts deciding in favor of homeowners, and aggressive actions by state attorneys general.
Matt Weidner picked up this subpoena issued on October 13 served to Fidelity National Financial of Jacksonville, Florida, a major title company (number 366 on the Fortune 500). (Florida Attorney General - Economic Crimes Investigative Subpoena Oct 13).
The subpoena demands all documents and other information relating to an investigation of "possible unfair and deceptive trade practices, unconscionable acts and/or unfair competition of the above named entity and/or associates." It goes on to demand, "Copies of any and all underlying documentation that allows for your employee or ex-employee, Linda Green to sign documents in the following capacities: " Vice President of Loan Documentation, Wells Fargo Bank; several Vice Presidents, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, the Vice President, American Home Mortgage, and other executives at major financial institutions. Was Linda Green a robo-signer?
Attorney General Bill McCollum is playing hardball. The day before the Fidelity National subpoena, he called for a meeting of Florida's major real estate finance firms including: Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, GMAC Mortgage, PNC Financial Services and Litton Loan Servicing. The Miami Herald quoted a letter sent to Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, GMAC Mortgage, PNC Financial Services and Litton Loan Servicing.
"I am writing you to express my concern for Florida's economic future and the credibility of Florida's judicial foreclosure system as a result of the actions of your company -- actions that have affected the integrity of title to real property for Florida's homeowners as well as the foreclosure process in Florida,''