This is brilliant – rather than regulate or bailout MERS, these three are pushing to cut them off. If lenders want to sell loans to Fannie/Freddie/FHA, they’ll have to find another way to track them other than MERS, and pay recording fees every time they sell or transfer the loan. FromHW:
Three congressional representatives recently introduced a bill into the House that would gradually phase out the use of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems,commonly called MERS, within the government-sponsored enterprises as well as Ginnie Mae.
The Transparency and Security in Mortgage Registration Act of 2010, also known as H.R. 6460, would prohibit Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from purchasing or acquiring any new MERS mortgage deal of six months after its enactment.
MERS allows lenders to track individual mortgages through an electronic tracking and holding system. According to MERS, the firm holds legal title to a mortgage as the loan owner’s agent and is sometimes granted the authority to enforce foreclosure. The firm has been at the epicenter of foreclosure-gate and under scrutiny for wrongful foreclosure.
Under the bill, Fannie and Freddie would also be prohibited from new lending or investing in securities consisting of MERS mortgages for six months.
After the six-month time period expires, “MERS shall not be the named mortgagee or mortgagee of record on any mortgage owned, guaranteed, or securitized” by the GSEs. If at the six-month deadline, Fannie and Freddie still hold loans with a connection to MERS, the agencies will assign those loans to a servicer or holder, the bill states.
Ginnie Mae would be subject to the same timelines and similar terms as Fannie and Freddie under Transparency and Security in Mortgage Registration Act of 2010.
“[T]he association may not newly guarantee the payment of principal of or interest on any trust certificate or other security based or back by a trust or pool that contains, or purchase or acquire, any MERS mortgage,” the bill states.
Richard Bove, analyst at Rochdale Securities, believes the issue will continue for the next four to five years.
“It’s going to be like a tobacco or an asbestos situation,” Bove says, arguing court battles will continue evolving for some time at plaintiffs test courts to find successful strategies and Bank of America and other institutions work to find off the evolving challenges.
The MERS/robo will be a gold mine for attorneys – but will it erode homebuyer confidence? Or end up being a nothing-burger (like ARM recasts, etc.) because the government will spend whatever it takes to avoid a potential meltdown?
Bank of America has a great excuse – “hey, you made us buy Countrywide!”, which could be the clincher that makes the government wave the magic wand (again) and make it all go away.
Or could the MERS legal issues gain enough steam to over-run the system?
Would the specifics about MERS/robo affect your home buying/selling decisions?
Hat tip to daytrip and geotpf for sending this along, fromthe WSJ:
OKEECHOBEE COUNTY, Fla.—Patsy Campbell could tell you a thing or two about fighting foreclosure. She’s been fighting hers for 25 years.
The 71-year-old retired insurance saleswoman has been living in her house, a two-story on a half acre in a tidy middle-class neighborhood here in central Florida, since 1978. The last time she made a mortgage payment was October 1985.
And yet Ms. Campbell has been able to keep her house, protected by a 105-pound pit bull named Dodger and a locked, rusty gate advising visitors to beware of the dog.
“They’re not going to take this house,” says Ms. Campbell. “I intend to stay in this house and maintain it as my residence until I die.”
Ms. Campbell’s foreclosure case has outlasted two marriages, three recessions and four presidents. She has seen seven great-grandchildren born, plum real-estate markets come and go and the ownership of her mortgage change six times. Many Florida real-estate lawyers say it is the longest-lasting foreclosure case they have ever heard of.
You know by now that the banking lobbyists must be working overtime trying to convince Congress to sweep the MERS debacle under the rug. This video doesn’t have the answers, but at least it brings the issues to the forefront. The best is a quote by Thomas Jefferson at the 4:50 mark:
(Hat tip to the Coto Housing Blog where I saw this)
Rolling Stone Magazine reporter Matt Taibbi has a detailed story about the Florida foreclosures being tried in front of retired judges. Clickherefor full story – an excerpt:
After Soud’s outburst, Cooper quietly leaves the court. Once out of sight of the judge, she shows me her file. It’s not hard to find the fraud in the case.
For starters, the assignment of mortgage is autographed by a notorious robo-signer — John Kennerty, who gave a deposition this summer admitting that he signed as many as 150 documents a day for Wells Fargo. In Cooper’s case, the document with Kennerty’s signature on it places the date on which Wells Fargo obtained the mortgage as May 5th, 2010.
The trouble is, the bank bought the loan from Wachovia — a bank that went out of business in 2008. All of which is interesting, because in her file, it states that Wells Fargo sued Cooper for foreclosure on February 22nd, 2010. In other words, the bank foreclosed on Cooper three months before it obtained her mortgage from a nonexistent company.
The MERS debacle will go on for years, and be full of legal wranglings along the way.
The biggest issue? The notes and trust deed have been physically separated by MERS, and according to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in 1872, a mortgage has no separate existence from the note. It sounds like the money owed would then convert to being unsecured…or will it extinguish?
It’ll be a long road, so let’s just digest in smaller pieces – excerpts from this Bloomberg article sent in by SM that also cites several court cases, mostly favoring MERS:
1. About 60 percent of newly originated loans are on the MERS system, Lejarde said. Since its inception in 1995, it has carried 66 million loans and currently has between 23 million and 25 million active loans, she said.
2. A big selling point for the company is its cost savings. It charges $6.95 for every loan registered, Lejarde said. With an average cost of about $40 for filing a mortgage assignment with local counties, MERS has saved the industry about $2.4 billion, Merscorp Chief Executive Officer R.K. Arnold said in a September 2009 deposition in an Alabama suit.
3. The company is accused in two whistleblower suits filed this year of cheating California and Nevada counties out of millions of dollars in recording fees. In 2006, New York State’s highest court told one county it had to record MERS mortgages against its wishes. The county said MERS cost it $1 million a year.
4. Eventually high courts in states with judicial oversight of foreclosures will have to review MERS’s role, Patrick A. Randolph, a professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City specializing in real-estate law, said in an interview. “It’s a question of state law,” Randolph said. “The problem is simply confusion about a word the courts are not used to seeing in this context — the word ‘nominee.’”
5. MERS says it has the right to foreclose because the borrower grants the company legal title to the mortgage and it forecloses as agent for the promissory-note holder. “Courts around the country have repeatedly upheld and recognized this right,” MERS said in an Oct. 4 e-mailed statement.
Since March 2009, supreme courts in Arkansas, Kansas and Maine have found that MERS had no standing in foreclosure proceedings under their states’ laws. The company lends no money and suffers no injury, the panels said.
MERS’s relationship to the bank that owned a loan in question was “more akin to that of a straw man than to a party possessing all the rights given a buyer,” the Kansas Supreme Court wrote. “What stake in the outcome of an independent action for foreclosure could MERS have?”
Are the title companies in trouble for insuring robo-signed REO sales, or MERS-related transactions?
Kingside said, “Not if the sellers are using grant deeds”.
Here’s the definition:
grant deed n. the document which transfers title to real property or a real property interest from one party (grantor) to another (grantee). It must describe the property by legal description of boundaries and/or parcel numbers, be signed by all people transferring the property, and be acknowledged before a notary public. The transfer is finalized by recording with the County Recorder or Recorder of Deeds. Importantly, a grant deed warrants that the grantor actually owned the title to transfer, which a quit claim deed would not, since it only transfers what the grantor owned, if anything.
A check of recently sold REO properties revealed that four major servicers – BofA, Wells Fargo, J.P.MorganChase, and IndyMac/FDIC – are all using grant deeds to convey ownership to the buyers. The grant deeds include the warranty, which should relieve the title insurers from responsibility (and put it on the servicers) for robo-signed deocuments fouling up the chain of title.
Click here for an Example of a Grant Deed used recently – remember the bank-owned house in Olivenhain listed for $999,000 that had 17 offers? It closed for $1,170,000, or 17% over list price. You can verify that sales price by taking the documentary transfer tax, $1,287 (at top of grant deed) and dividing by .0011.
While the MERS debacle has many borrowers thinking that they may be getting a free house soon, the biggest threat to the banks/servicers comes from the investors who purchased the securities on Wall Street. Thanks to Kingside, here’s a link to a big class-action suit in the works:
On August 17, 2010, attorney Susan Chana Lask filed a Federal Class Action Complaint on behalf of tens of thousands of New York State homeowners who lost their homes to an alleged foreclosure fraud orchestrated for years by a New York “foreclosure mill” attorney and major mortgage companies.
The case is filed in the US District Court, Eastern District of New York, entitled “Connie Campbell against Steven Baum, MERSCORP, Inc, et al.”, Case #10CV3800. It alleges RICO civil racketeering, RESPA, Fair Debt Collection Practices Act violations and that homeowners paid inflated foreclosure and other fees fictionalized by Mr. Baum who profited from the scheme since 2005.
The action seeks to return tens of thousands of foreclosed homes to their owners or the values thereof and hundreds of millions in punitive damages against Mr. Baum, MERSCORP and HSBC.
Attorney Susan Chana Lask discovered the alleged foreclosure scheme after her client lost her 1.7 Million Dollar Brooklyn Caroll Gardens Brownstone home to a $190,000 mortgage foreclosure filed by attorney Steven Baum for HSBC. The foreclosure court filings were false as filed in HSBC v. Cncepcion Campbell, et al, New York Supreme Court, Kings County, Index #20393/07 .
Steven Baum’s foreclosure complaint he filed was for HSBC against Ms. Campbell . It admits the loan was never assigned to HSBC, yet he sued for HSBC. A later Satisfaction of Mortgage was not filed for HSBC but for a company named MERS, admitting HSBC never owned the loan and the foreclosure complaint should have never been filed in the first place. The actual Mortgage was always in MERSCORP’s name and never assigned as required by law. Just who owns the loans Steven Baum forcloses on is a deliberate mystery and potentially tens of thousands of New York homeowners lost their homes on a mystery.
But there’s more. The documents filed in the Courts are signed by attorneys from Mr. Baum’s office under penalty of perjury that they are filing with knowledge of the transaction; however, they have no knowledge as they admit they do not have the documents they attest to in their office. In fact, in the later case filed of Concepcion Campbell v. Walendowski, et. al., New York Supreme Court, Kings County, Index # 08-3467, when Ms. Lask subpoenaed Mr. Baum’s firm for the original Note, they responded it was not needed and refused to produce it; implying they never had it yet they swear they reviewed it in their court filings “under penalty of perjury.”
Jim the Realtor is legit - I interviewed three brokers; he said list price should be $100,000 higher than the other two brokers; listed it with him and had all cash (no financing) offer in two days, five day contingency period, closing in two weeks - and it closed at his recommended list price. I could not recommend anyone more than I recommend Jim the Realtor.
When we moved to San Diego in 2005 we rented a big house on Mt. Soledad (La Jolla) with 180 degree ocean views for the same payment as a mortgage on a dump in Chula Vista. Clearly something was wrong. Yet, the media was full of the usual happy-talk nonsense, so I was glad to find Jim's blog. I've followed his honest assessments and data since.
We decided to sell and move to AZ at Thanksgiving. Dec. 1st we met with Jim to sell our home. We closed today (29 days later). Jim orchestrated a feeding frenzy -- we had 25 showings in 2-1/2 days, multiple offers, and sold for well over asking price. I'd say he earned his commission! We have owned and sold homes in 5 different States always using experienced, productive, full-time realtors. Jim outshines them all.
You don't decide to sell and close 29 days later over Christmas (with COVID lockdown) without some miracles. Donna was amazing at performing lots of those miracles and ensuring that everything was done right and on time. They are a terrific team with a very responsive and professional network.
Where do we begin..2020 has been a year for everyone. When COVID hit and shut down both my husband and my businesses, we were left with a mortgage and very little income coming in. We were stressed, scared and felt stuck. We made the hard decision to sell our home and move out of state. We contacted the Klinges' and spent a good hour going over what we hoped we could accomplish. Jim and Donna came over with comps in hand and suggestions on improvements to get our house ready for the market. It was overwhelming to think about, but Donna was there and one step ahead in every scenario. Basically we just approved what they suggested and Donna handled literally everything. We placed our house on the market and within the first day we had multiple offers well above asking price! We couldn't believe it. We were overjoyed! Jim countered the offers to weed through them, and everyone came back with way more. It was amazing, and we are ?? sure it was because of the staging and repairs the Klinges suggested we do.
Due to unforeseen dishonesty from the buyers lender, we hit a big hurdle when trying to close. We had already moved out of state and were shocked when three days before closing the lender dropped a bombshell on the buyers and us. However, Jim and Donna handled it like veterans, not afraid to play hard ball and represent their clients. After a few phone calls with us, and several between Donna and the lender, they had a plan B-Z to make sure we were taken care of. In the end we closed with even more money than we ever thought possible and with very little work from us. The Klinges handled this entire "2020" worthy event with the utmost professionalism and did everything in their power to not only make this as smooth as possible for us, but we also walked away with more money from the sale of the house than we ever hoped for. After working with Jim and Donna, you don't ever use anyone else. They are hands down the best team to represent you in any scenario.
Working with Klinge Realty Group was a great experience! They are very responsive, professional and knowledgable about the real estate market! I would definitely recommend Klinge Realty Group.
Jim and Donna Klinge made the sale of our condo extraordinarily easy. They know the market and gave us sound advice backed by details and very considerable experience, reflected both in the initial pricing and subsequent negotiations. They work together as a team and are always available to talk. We had a few challenges with our property and they were able to coordinate the resolution to everything, including items that I would not think would ordinarily be their responsibility to handle. They made the whole process effortless on our part. They are folks with high integrity and we cannot recommend them highly enough.
Review for Member: Donna Klinge
I cannot believe there are no reviews of Donna yet, ugh!! She is the secret sauce of the Jim Klinge/Donna Klinge combo! I will touch on Jim here, but Donna is why I'm so totally loyal to these two (no offense to Jim :)).
I consider myself a rather savvy buyer/seller. I've bought/sold 7 times in about 15 years. On the buy side, Jim is the PERFECT combo of: completely digitally savvy (he will pull data all day long until you feel comfortable with your chosen house, area, school district, anticipated appreciation rate...anything!), he's super well respected and known in the area by other agents, an amazingly cool but strategic negotiator, is totally devoid of desperation for a sale/commission, and more.
Then once you get into contract phase, Donna literally handles every last and final detail in a concierge-like manner -- totally shielding you from the daily back and forth, noodling and annoyances of the buyer's requests. She solves it ALL; it's miraculous what that woman accomplishes over and above what is even expected in a buy/sell transaction.
On the sell side, Jim and Donna do the same, but even moreso. Donna in particular truly takes everything off your plate: she'll manage getting the house painted, the carpets replaced, she'll go on site (as she Jim both did for me when selling our rental properties) to work with the renters and make sure the house is ready to show -- freeing me to have to take time off of work to do so. They work with A+ integrity, too, so you know you are serving all parties fairly and lawfully throughout.
A home purchase/sale is the most considered you'll ever make. HIRE A SAVVY AGENT, not a friend!, and get what you need out of the transaction. Jim and Donna are our agents for life.
Jim and Donna Klinge are by far the most professional, personable and responsive realtors I have ever worked with. They provide VIP concierge level service in every area of the process of selling your home. My home was marketed so successfully that we received an offer the day after our first and only open house. Thanks to Jim's pricing and negotiating, our house is now the highest sold in our community. Jim's vast experience means he has worked with several realtors and knows the market all over north county. Donna is AMAZING in processing everything in the transaction. She scheduled trades people to work on the house in preparation for the sale as well as the repairs needed before closing. She communicated clearly every step of the way about what would be happening. She took the weight off my shoulders for the whole process. I will always use Jim and Donna for my future real estate needs and I whole heartedly recommend them to anyone buying or selling a home.
Jim and the team at Klinge Reality are without a doubt the best in the business! Not only was Jim helpful and extremely knowledgeable, he was patient and determined to help me find my first home. Jim and his team have been in the business for many years, and it shows. Jim is a wealth of knowledge and was my biggest proponent despite the temperature of the competitive market. I ended up getting the perfect property in my dream neighborhood all thanks to Jim. From the day my offer was accepted, Donna was a real lifesaver. She was extremely helpful, responsive, and knowledgeable when it came to every minute detail, and held my hand through the process. As a first time home buyer I had no idea what the process would entail, but Donna curtailed every concern I came across and made the escrow process feel seamless. Jim and Donna provided me the best home buying experience, and I am very grateful for all they did for me. It was truly a pleasure to work with Jim and Donna and I am already looking forward to the next time we work together!
Review for Member: Richard Morgan
Richard is an amazing realtor! He has high integrity and genuinely cares about his clients and their needs. Richard paid close attention to what I was seeking in a home and was very patient in our search to find it. I would highly recommend Richard and will use him for future transactions. Truly a different kind of realtor experience!
Could not be happier with my experience with Jim and his team. He helped me sell a very unique and challenging property. Throughout the entire process he was always available, honest, transparent, trustworthy, and always put my interests as a seller first. A (rare) true professional! During close of escrow Jim went above and beyond to complete the deal. It would not have been possible without his experience, fantastic team, and pure dedication. Highly recommended!
Thanks Jim and Donna Klinge!