For whatever reason – a major life changing event, an escalating ARM that is out of control, an underwater property, you have received the dreaded Notice of Default and are officially in the foreclosure process. So now what do you do? Scramble to find the money to bring your loan out of default or strap on tight and prepare to battle the bank? Deciding to fight foreclosure is a very personal decision that comes with ramifications, no matter what you decide. What was once seen as a social stigma, damaging your credit reputation and playing havoc with your own sense of personal worth, foreclosure is now the new battleground for Americans who have had enough.
As we witness record bonuses being paid out to Wall Street and bank employees our neighborhoods are littered with “Owned by Bank”, “Foreclosure Sale”, and empty, decaying properties. Depending on where you live your own property has probably declined in value by 20 to 50% (or more) as you and your family struggle to maintain payments on a property that may never reach the value of what you own on it.
Wall Street firms, in their greedy quest for wealth have orchestrated a massive debacle that has left millions of Americans homeless (according to National Center on Family Homelessness 1 out of 45 USA children are homeless - read Josh Sternberg’s article that has several other links by national publications at “The Underreported Story” ), millions of Americans with devastated retirement plans, and clouded titles on millions of properties. For some, fighting foreclosure will become a personal quest of principles, holding the Wall Street Firms and banks accountable for their greed; for others it will be a blip of embarrassment as they pack and move to a new place to start over. This blog is for those individuals who have decided to strap on tight and fight to hold the “too big to fail” financial firms accountable for their insatiable greed.
What has now become very apparent, Wall Street found a new way to make money by coordinating the pooling of money from investors (that would be your pension plan you have been paying into for the last twenty plus years) to loan to American’s for purchasing property. A noble plan indeed, if Wall Street had followed through with ethical, legal processes to determine who that money should be loaned to and how that money would be paid back. Instead Wall Street orchestrated a process that allowed Wall Street to siphon off large fees for themselves and their partners, while packaging the loans into exotic loan products that would strip American’s of their wealth, their hopes, their dreams, and their security.
As companies like Countrywide, Washington Mutual, Greenpoint Mortgage Funding, New Century Mortgage (in 2010 the Office of the Comptroller of Currency named New Century Mortgage the worst subprime lender in the country! ), and others, played fast and loose with underwriting guidelines. Using fraudulent appraisals to overvalue property, duping many American’s into loan products that are unconscionable, Wall Street and their partners have gotten richer and richer and richer. The more American’s that default, the richer Wall Street and the banks get. In turn, as American’s became aware of the flawed nature of the loans, banks such as Wells Fargo, Deutsche Bank, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Citibank, Bank of New York Mellon, GMAC, to name a few, have forfeited their hard earned reputations to engage in deceptive business practices to cover up the fraud. And yes, the fraud abounds.
In April 2011, the OCC issued Cease and Desist Orders to over 8 banks to clean up their deceptive foreclosure practices (see OCC Enforcement Action Against Eight Servicers for Unsafe and Unsound Foreclosure Practices – scroll to the bottom of the article for direct links to each of the orders); the FHFA has sued banks based on their fraud (See FHFA Filings in PLS Cases for direct links to the complaints ) and ALL fifty State Attorney Generals with the Department of Justice settled with the banks for thier "unsafe and unsound" business pracites. (see National Mortgage Settlement Agreements). While some of the SAG’s are weak in their quest, others such as Martha Coakley of Massachusetts, Eric Schneiderman of New York, Beau Biden of Delaware, Kamala Harris of California, and Catherine Masto, Nevada are determined to lift up the hood of this massive fraud and hold the banks truly accountable. Now even County Recorders, such John O’Brien of Southern Essex County in Massachusetts and Jeff Thigpen of Register of Deeds for Guilford County, North Carolina, are taking a stand against the fraud, refusing to file documents that have been clearly signed by robo or surrogate signers (See Register of Deeds John O’Brien Releases Forensic Study or google either recorder’s name for more articles on the issues).
There is fraud. There is massive fraud. And one by one, individually, we can each make a difference in this fight. One way is to fight the foreclosure - post or pre. If your loan (Note) was securitized or you were sold an exotic loan program such as an ARM, interest only or “pick a pay” loan, then you mostly likely are a victim of one of the most insidious crimes in the history of the USA. You most likely have grounds to fight the foreclosure, and with a thoughtful legal strategy, you can fight the foreclosure and get what you thought you were getting all along - a fair and reasonable mortgage.
 Office of the Comptroller: Often referred to as OCC, charters and regulates the banks.