It isn't often the case when reading the local newspaper (in this instance the Baltimore Sun) the headline article, "Second chance to save their homes, GMAC pressed to dismiss "robo-signed' foreclosures, is dropping 250 cases", resounded with good news.
As we have known since the fall of last year, mortgage servicers (such as GMAC) all over the country were dabbling in suspicious practices like "robo-signing", the improper signing of mortgage affidavits by an employee of a law firm without knowing the accuracy of the information he was signing. These affidavits then were notarized (often by someone other than the legal notary) making the process "appear" to be legal.
The proverbial s___ hit the fan when early in 2010 a Maine attorney Thomas Cox, a former foreclosure attorney, while volunteering to review foreclosures, noticed what he saw as a "red flag", the same signing officer's name to numerous foreclosures. In a deposition hearing conducted by Cox with this signing officer, the latter revealed he had no knowledge of what was in the affidavits he was signing (which is clearly illegal). With this evidence in hand, Cox then sent the case to Maine District Court which agreed to hear Cox' revelations against the mortgage servicer GMAC. Subsequent to say, Cox' case blew the lid off the unscrupulous practices conducted by other mortgage servicers like GMAC, i.e., Wells Fargo, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase et al. all illegally expediting mortgage foreclosures and getting people tossed out of their homes
As this avalanche of impropriety grew by leaps and bounds the attorney general's in all 50 states are now pursuing a joint action into foreclosure practices.
In Maryland, the "state court system approved an emergency update of its rules in October to make clear that courts can conduct audits for problematic foreclosure paperwork and toss cases if documents were robo-signed."
The impact of the Maryland court system's ruling was not lost on GMAC which in December started to ask Maryland to dismiss cases in which it submitted were "potentially defective affidavits." GMAC has said it will re-file the cases "to assure that all home preservation options were exhausted".
What this means in practical terms is "GMAC must now show in its new filings that it considered the homeowners for foreclosure alternatives and the borrowers will be eligible to pursue court-supervised mediation" i.e. it gives homeowners the opportunity for "sit down mediation sessions" for them to get real "loan modification" on their mortgages rather than get the typical runaround by mortgage servicers who often refrained from reworking mortgage terms who pursued foreclosure with a vengeance and in many instances without "voluntarily" trying to rework mortgage terms.
But without the revelations coming to light of mortgage servicers engaging in unlawful practices and now being held to account would we hear GMAC say it wants "to assure that all preservation were exhausted"? Not on your life!
Predators, like the current crop of mortgage servicers, can only be reined in by exposing their greed and disregard for following the law by holding them to account.
It is a travesty that the banksters on Wall Street and other financial and insurance behemoths "too big to fail" have been allowed to go free or when caught been allowed to get off with fines and no jail time while admitting no wrong doing in creating the financial meltdown and "great recession". That disaster dwarfs what is now happening with mortgage servicers.
But in America today we must take heart where we can and not disparage the small successes such as currently happening in Maryland. We can only hope those small successes can multiply and grow into larger successes nation wide.