CALIFORNIA: NEW BILL SB 1275 May allow homeowners to REVERSE FORECLOSURE SALES due to SERVICER’S ERRORS

Carrie Bay 6/4/2010 DSNEWS

The California Senate approved a new foreclosure bill on Thursday with a 21 to 12 vote and sent it on to the Assembly for review. The legislation lays out two major provisions intended to deter lax behavior on the part of servicers and prevent avoidable foreclosures in the state, which continues to post one of the nation’s highest foreclosure rates.

The bill would provide a means of recourse to homeowners whose homes were lost to foreclosure due to serious servicer errors, and it would prohibit servicers from starting the foreclosure process until a homeowner has received a final decision on their modification.

According to a statement from the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), confusion and errors that cost Californians their homes, are devastating to the state’s housing market, but are avoidable.

If a borrower’s home is sold in foreclosure due to servicer error, there is currently no means by which to seek recourse. The bill, SB 1275, authored by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco) and Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), seeks to change this by providing recourse through what is known as a private right of action.

This would allow eligible homeowners to seek limited damages which are directly related to the severity of the servicer’s errors, or, in some cases, would allow the homeowner to reverse the foreclosure sale.

During earlier committee hearings for SB 1275, servicers acknowledged that confusion and errors are commonplace. According to CRL, Bank of America executive Jack Schackett even admitted during a conference call that they “have not handled [their] customers to the standards Bank of America is accustomed to.”

“It’s unacceptable that when servicers lose faxes and lose payments, some Californians lose their homes,” said Caryn Becker, policy counsel with the CRL California office. “At nearly 1 million foreclosures and counting, we need to prevent every unnecessary foreclosure we can.”

Speaking in support of the bill’s passage, CRL said homeowners who have been wronged deserve the opportunity to make it right, but the organization says the legislation continues to face some opposition from Assembly members who oppose allowing California homeowners to pursue claims against their lenders and servicers.

SB 1275 would also prohibit servicers from foreclosing on homeowners who have requested modifications until a decision has been made, and the homeowner has been notified.

CRL says currently, servicers are initiating the foreclosure process even when borrowers are working to reach a resolution, including when homeowners are following all the rules to seek a loan modification, or are already making payments on a trial modification.

“Simple fairness dictates that no one should lose their home while they are in the middle of trying to save it,” said Paul Leonard, director of the California office of the Center for Responsible Lending. “A foreclosure that starts because a servicer’s left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing is the most preventable foreclosure of all.”

SB 1275 will be heard by the Assembly Banking Committee before it goes to the full Assembly for a vote. Assembly members are currently considering a separate bill, AB 1639, that would mandate foreclosure mediation through a new Facilitated Mortgage Workout (FMW) program, which would require lenders to meet with delinquent borrowers to try and devise an alternative plan of action before proceeding with foreclosure.

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A little too Late…crash happened! HUD reconsiders RESPA rule on incentives

Now if “steering” was involved…

WASHINGTON – June 4, 2010 – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is taking a closer look at the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act’s (RESPA) prohibition against the “required use” of affiliated settlement service providers. DinSFLA: They need to take a closer look if these were part of “Appraisal Fraud” & “Illegal Kickbacks”.

It violates RESPA if a consumer is required to use a particular mortgage lender, title company or other settlement service provider that’s affiliated with another business in their mortgage transaction. However, it’s less clear whether it’s a RESPA violation if it is offered as a discount or other incentive to steer them to a lender, title company, etc. DinSFLA: COERCION or not COERCE is the Question! I wonder what they would think of the Mills using their own title companies to close on their foreclosures? Any violations?

HUD is currently trying to determine if incentives violate the “required use” requirement. As part of the process, HUD published a notice about the issue and is seeking public comment.

HUD took the step because it has received a number of consumer complaints, many of which focused on a home builder that might reduce the cost of a home (by adding free construction upgrades or by discounting the home price) if the homebuyer uses the developer or builder’s affiliated mortgage lender. In some cases, the incentives may not represent true discounts if the homebuyers ultimately pay more in total loan costs.

According to HUD, consumers also say that the timing of the contract with the builder precludes them from shopping around, and the builder’s lender can then charge higher settlement costs or interest rates not competitive with non-affiliated lenders. HUD says that the steering of clients ” effectively violates” the “required use” ban in RESPA.

“It is our intent to keep an open mind on how to approach this vexing question over what is, and what is not, ‘required use,'” says David Stevens, HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Housing/Federal Housing Commissioner. “Clearly, consumers are complaining that they are being presented offers they believe they can’t refuse, and are essentially being required to use certain affiliated service providers.”

HUD’s current definition of “required use” reads:

“Required use means a situation in which a person must use a particular provider of a settlement service in order to have access to some distinct service or property, and the person will pay for the settlement service of the particular provider or will pay a charge attributable, in whole or in part, to the settlement service. However, the offering of a package or (combination of settlement services) or the offering of discounts or rebates to consumers for the purchase of multiple settlement services does not constitute a required use. Any package or discount must be optional to the purchaser. The discount must be a true discount below the prices that are otherwise generally available, and must not be made up by higher costs elsewhere in the settlement process.”

HUD’s call for comments is published in the Federal Register. To view the document (PDF format), go to:http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2010/pdf/2010-13350.pdf

Comments must refer to the docket number and title:

Docket No. FR–5352–A–01 RIN 2502–A178 Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA): Strengthening and Clarifying RESPA’s “Required Use” Prohibition Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

Comment due date: Sept. 1, 2010.

HUD strongly encourages people to submit comments electronically through the Federal eRulemaking Portal atwww.regulations.gov.

Comments can also be mailed to:

ANPR to the Regulations Division Office of General Counsel Department of Housing and Urban Development

451 7th Street, SW. Room 10276

Washington, DC 20410–0500

No FAX comments are accepted.

© 2010 Florida Realtors®

RELATED STORY:

ARE FORECLOSURE MILLS Coercing Buyers for BANK OWNED homes? ARE ALL THE MILLS?

Shares of DJSP Enterprises Get SLAMMED….FALL 25%. Are we seeing a DownTrend?

Huge profits result from foreclosure procedure

By RICHARD WILNER NYPost
Last Updated: 1:03 AM, May 30, 2010
Posted: 1:03 AM, May 30, 2010

A new gold rush is sweeping the country — only this time the speculators are looking to get fat off the $4 billion home foreclosure industry by promising banks a streamlined and low-cost method to kick folks out of their homes. DinSFLA: Last time I heard the word “speculators” was in the CONDO BOOM!

In the last two years, as the mortgage meltdown intensified, four companies have gone public or filed papers to go public — each looking to get their hands on cash to help grow into a national powerhouse quickly to take advantage of the soft housing market.

Buying shares of these companies is like shorting the housing market — sort of giving the average investor a chance to be a mini-John Paulson, the hedge fund mogul who made billions betting against the housing market in 2007. There were roughly 2.9 million foreclosures in 2009 and there are currently 6 million homeowners 60 days or more delinquent on their mortgage.

The companiesDJSP Enterprises, which saw revenues grow 31 percent last year, Altisource Portfolio Solutions, which reported a 182 percent jump in profits last year, and Lender Processing Services, whose $2.4 billion in revenue was up 29 percent last year — each offer a technology platform that links mortgage lender clients on one end and law firms clients on the other.

A fourth company, Prommis Solutions, which swung to a $7.9 million profit in 2009 from a loss in 2008, recently filed papers to go public.

The four companies profit, in large part, from the high volume of mortgage defaults — collecting fees from banks for each referral and from law firms, which file the foreclosure actions. In fact, the companies warn that a turnaround in the housing market or additional mortgage-modification plans from Washington could chill their profits.

Last week, shares of DJSP Enterprises got slammed, falling 25 percent on Friday, to $6.46, a 52-week low, after the company lowered its guidance for 2010 in the wake of a drop in the number of foreclosures.

It’s a strange, new sector of the housing finance sector, where bad news for America fattens the bottom lines for these companies, and good news for beleaguered homeowners knocks the stuffing — and dollars — from their bottom lines.

Housing Market Update: When Will House Prices Recover?

Since they all seem to be talking out of their asses…let me be frank and speaketh Le Face! Not in 5 yrs…not in 10 years…maybe in 20 years from now!

Seeing the inventory of shadow “hidden” reo’s there is no near in sight!

Now why give any loans today? The housing market is going down, these homes will continue to head under water? Buy today…Loose Tomorrow mentality? Especially the FHA loans??

5465.0

Description: A sign advertising new homes for sale is seen on March 24 in Davie, Florida. (Getty Images)

May 27, 2010 | From theTrumpet.com
Not any time soon.

Remember when all those government economists and National Association of Realtors analysts were saying that housing prices wouldn’t recover until the first half of 2009? Then it was by 2010? Now the truth is coming out. No one knows when housing prices will recover—if ever.

According to mortgage-bond legend Lewis Ranieri, don’t expect a meaningful rebound in house prices for at least three to five years: “There is another big leg down and the question is how long does it stay.”

Don’t be quick to dismiss what Ranieri says, because he is possibly the one individual who is arguably just as responsible for America’s great housing bubble as former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan (who lowered interest rates to record lows to try to get us to spend our way out of a recession), the politicians (who forced banks to lend to unqualified individuals) and the investment ratings agencies (that rated subprime mortgages as triple-A safe).

Ranieri was the high-flying Salomon Brothers trader who first packaged mortgages into bundles that could be sold and traded as securities on a national and international level. He was the man who institutionalized mass mortgage investing. His innovations back in the 1980s helped reduce the cost of mortgages for millions of people. But they also paved the way for the junk subprime lending that helped fuel the housing bubble.

Now Ranieri is saying to get set for more trouble ahead. Over the next 18 months, at least 3 million more properties will join the 5 million already in some stage of distress. “It’s an immense problem” that risks “flooding the market,” he said.

The market for mortgage-backed securities has virtually dried up since 2008. With so many people falling behind on their payments, investors have not been able to rely on the steady streams of income that mortgage bonds historically produce. Plus, with house prices plummeting, investors don’t even have the protection of collateral.

With such adverse conditions, investors don’t want to touch American mortgages with a 10-foot pole.

Normally this lack of investment demand would drive up mortgage rates and weed out weaker borrowers—thus allowing the housing market to return to investable conditions.

However, due to government intervention to prop up the housing market, there has been an unforeseen side effect. America’s pool of mortgages has actually become riskier for investors.

In an effort to prop up house prices in America and thus keep the big banks solvent, the government began massively encouraging more people to invest in homes: It changed tax laws, it used taxpayer money to modify loans for people who had borrowed too much, it offered first-time home buyers credits, and then extended the buyers’ credits again once they expired.

It even used taxpayer dollars to ramp up subprime lending—the same kind of risky lending that got the banks into trouble in the first place.

It was one massive taxpayer-backed effort to increase the pool of home buyers and thus demand for houses and house prices.

But the scheme largely backfired.

The government subsidies and handouts did encourage more people to buy homes—but mostly people who couldn’t normally afford homes on their own.

Look at the numbers. About 95 percent of the money used to buy homes in America today comes from the government. And guess which government organization issues the most loans. Is it Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two government mortgage giants notorious for their low lending standards? No, it is a new government agency with even lower standards.

Meet the Federal Housing Authority (fha). You can get an fha-backed loan for a house with as little as 3.5 percent down. This is the most common loan in America today. If you include the government’s $8,000 first-time buyer’s credit (that just expired), the government was actually paying people to borrow taxpayer dollars to purchase homes.

“This is a market purely on life support, sustained by the federal government,” admits fha president David Stevens. “Having fha do this much volume is a sign of a very sick system.”

The fha backed more loans during the first quarter of this year than the $6 trillion Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mortgage giants did! Those were your dollars being given to subprime borrowers.

If you were an investor, would you want to lend money to someone who could not save up a down payment? Would you lend to a family that required two incomes to afford the loan and still couldn’t save up a down payment?

Thus, the government is stuck with all the mortgages. It can’t stop giving money for loans, or the market will collapse, the economy will head down again and politicians will look incompetent. Yet at the same time, how long can the government afford to provide money for 95 percent of all home-buying activity in the country?

With America’s ballooning budget deficits, the days of government handouts may soon come to an end. When they do, don’t be surprised if house prices fall a whole lot further.

So when will a recovery come? No one knows for sure, but even Lewis Ranieri will likely be proved an optimist.

For the real reason America’s housing market exploded, and how to fix it, read “The Cause of the Crisis People Won’t Face.” •

Mortgage holders sue bank in CLASS ACTION:

From: b.daviesmd6605

BY STAFF,  CITY NEWS SERVICE OCLNN.com
Wednesday, May 19, 2010

SANTA ANA – Distressed homeowners packed an appellate court hearing Tuesday as their attorney tried to persuade justices a 2008 California law should force banks to work harder to ease the terms of their mortgages.

Attorney Moses S. Hall argued before the three appellate court justices in the Fourth District’s Santa Ana courtroom that banks holding the loans of his clients are not complying with a state law compelling them to try to negotiate modified mortgages.

Attorney Justin D. Balser, representing the RPI Quality Loan Service Corp., argued the homeowners cannot bring the class-action lawsuit to the courts and must rely on the California Attorney General’s Office to enforce the law.

The appellate court justices appeared skeptical of that claim and queried him why people could not sue to have their rights enforced in the courts.

Balser argued that letting residents try to enforce the law in the courts would lead to a “flood of lawsuits.”

“This is the only statute of its kind in the nation,” Balser said.

Attorney Melissa Coutts, who also represented RPI, said she was looking for the appellate justices to provide guidance on the law, which she argued was too vague.

“If there was a specific remedy (in the law), we wouldn’t be here,” Hall responded. “There’s nothing to help keep people in their homes.”

Terry and Mike Mabry filed their class-action lawsuit after they said their lenders refused to help them save their home in Corona.

The two had invested in 13 properties, which they rented, but when the economy soured their found themselves struggling to keep up with mortgage payments as renters left or demanded lower rent, they said. They ended up losing some of the properties and others were lost in short sales, they said.

However, when it looked like they wouldn’t be able to afford the adjustable rate mortgage on their own home they contacted their lender and were told they could not renegotiate the terms unless they missed at least two payments, Terry Mabry said. The couple had not missed any payments, she said.

“When we reached out for help we were hit with one wall after the other,” Terry Mabry said. “The bankers led us to believe they were working with us, but they weren’t. All we wanted was to be helped.”

Terry Mabry argues that all the state law was meant to do was give homeowners a chance to work with the lenders to save their houses and is not a guarantee.

“The law was meant to create a discussion, not to guarantee a solution,” Terry Mabry said. “But we never even got to the discussion point. That’s the most frustrating part.”

The Mabrys thought they were in serious negotiations until they returned home one day to find a notice to sell their home floating around the front lawn.

Carlos and Maria Hernandez of Lake Forest also thought they were going to save the home they bought 5 years ago after they were put in a home-loan modification program for eight months.

“The next thing we know we were given a notice that the house was already sold,” Carlos Hernandez said.

“We put all of our savings in that house,” Hernandez said. “We want to stay in it because it’s for the future of our kids.”

Carlos Hernandez had trouble making mortgage payments because he lost his job, but was able to keep up with the new payments, he said.

The Mabrys and Hernandezes remain in their homes as appellate court justices consider the lawsuit.

Read more: http://www.oclnn.com/orange-county/2010-05-19/business/mortgage-holders-sue-bank-in-class-action#ixzz0p84ayuW5

Q & A: What’s Next for Fannie and Freddie? WSJ

MAY 24, 2010, 9:53 AM ET

By Nick Timiraos

It turns out that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, already becoming the most expensive legacy for taxpayers from the financial crisis, aren’t just too big too fail. As my column in Monday’s WSJ explains, they’re also proving too tough to reform.

Here’s a closer look at five common questions about what’s happening with—and what’s next for—Fannie and Freddie:

1. Why doesn’t the financial-overhaul bill address Fannie and Freddie?

The Obama administration says it’s too soon to take action to address the future of the housing-finance giants because markets are still fragile, and others have said the bill is already too complex without Fannie and Freddie in the mix.

Revamping the housing-finance giants, which own or guarantee around half of the nation’s $10.3 trillion in home mortgages, was never going to be easy. But the fact that, together with the Federal Housing Administration, the companies guaranteed 96.5% of all new mortgages last quarter has made the challenge only greater.

During the debate on financial-overhaul legislation, Republicans proposed measures that would have wound down the companies and limited the amount of further government aid. But the amendments didn’t specify what would take the place of Fannie and Freddie.

Both parties are “ignoring the issue,” says Lawrence White, an economics professor at New York University. Yes, markets may be too fragile for action now, but he says a plan now would give markets time to prepare for the future.

2. Why are Fannie and Freddie still losing money?

The companies have taken $145 billion in handouts, including $19 billion this quarter, from the U.S. Treasury so far, and that number could rise as foreclosures mount. Each quarter, as more mortgages go delinquent, Fannie and Freddie have to set aside more cash in reserve to cover losses if those loans end up defaulting and the homes they’re secured by go through foreclosure.

Nearly all of those defaults are coming from loans that the companies made during and immediately after the housing boom. Loans today have significantly tighter lending standards and should be profitable.

While losses could continue for several quarters, there are signs that delinquencies may have peaked during the first quarter. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac each said that the number of its loans that were seriously delinquent fell in March, from February.

3. Why is the government still putting money into the companies?

Each quarter, the government injects new money into Fannie and Freddie to keep the companies afloat. That allows the firms to meet their obligations to investors, which keeps the mortgage market moving. If the government decided to stop keeping the firms afloat, that could send borrowing costs up sharply for future homeowners and could create new shocks for the housing market.

In February 2009, the Obama administration said it would double to $200 billion the amount of aid it was willing to put into each of the two firms. Then in December, it said it would waive those limits, and allow for unlimited sums over the next three years. The companies are now akin to government housing banks, with an independent regulator, but one that ultimately must answer to the Treasury Department, which controls the purse strings.

The current arrangement has raised concerns that the companies could continue to make business decisions that might lead to higher losses and that they wouldn’t be making if they were still being run for private shareholders. “Unregulated pots of money—that was a cause of their demise, and now we’ve taken that monster and turned it into a super-monster” with little independent oversight, says David Felt, a former senior lawyer at the companies’ federal regulator, the Federal Housing Finance Agency.

What would the mortgage market look like today without government support?

Consider the market for “jumbo” loans, or those too large for government backing. Rates on jumbos are around 0.6 percentage points higher than conforming loans. That’s nearly double the historical spread, but an improvement over the peak 1.8 percentage point spread during the financial crisis.

Lending standards are also much tighter for loans without government backing, and 30-year fixed rate loans are much less common. Mike Farrell, chief executive of Annaly Capital Management, estimates that mortgage rates today would be two to three percentage points higher without government guarantees.

What will ultimately happen to Fannie and Freddie?

Congress has to decide what it wants the housing-finance system of the future to do. “Everyone acknowledges that the model is broken, that the model was flawed, yet we don’t know how to run a mortgage market without them and we have nothing with which to replace the broken system,” says Howard Glaser, a Clinton administration housing official and housing-industry consultant.

Still, a consensus is growing between some academics and policymakers that the government will continue to play some role at least in backstopping mortgages. Recent testimony from top administration officials over some general insight into what the administration wants the future system to do.

What will ultimately happen to Fannie and Freddie?

Congress has to decide what it wants the housing-finance system of the future to do. “Everyone acknowledges that the model is broken, that the model was flawed, yet we don’t know how to run a mortgage market without them and we have nothing with which to replace the broken system,” says Howard Glaser, a Clinton administration housing official and housing-industry consultant.

Still, a consensus is growing between some academics and policymakers that the government will continue to play some role at least in backstopping mortgages. Recent testimony from top administration officials over some general insight into what the administration wants the future system to do.

There have been other clues: The Obama administration has made clear its view that the failure of Fannie and Freddie shouldn’t be pinned on government affordable-housing mandates, which suggests that any future housing-finance entities would continue to serve a role supporting that function. And an administration report on the foreclosure crisis said that better regulation of the entire mortgage market, and not just any government-related entities, would be a “high priority” for the future.

Readers, what do you think the government should do with the firms?

40% might walkaway from “UNDERWATER” mortgage!

Could this mean the 60% are either in Foreclosure or Lost their homes!

Survey: 4 in 10 homeowners would consider walking away from ‘underwater’ mortgage

MIAMI – May 21, 2010 – More than 40 percent of homeowners with a mortgage say they would consider abandoning an “underwater” property, according to a national online survey released Thursday.

The study conducted this month by Harris Interactive for real estate firms Trulia and RealtyTrac touched on a topic that affects many South Floridians.

More than 371,000 homes in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties were worth less than the mortgage amount at the end of the first quarter, Zillow.com said recently.

Pete Flint, chief executive of Trulia, said on a conference call with reporters he “absolutely expects” more homeowners to walk away in the coming years as the stigma of foreclosure fades.

This is the fifth such survey of consumer attitudes since 2008, but the first time questions about underwater mortgages were included, Flint said.

Because South Florida home prices have fallen by more than 40 percent since the peak of the housing boom in 2005, underwater borrowers here may have to stay put for a decade or more until they can break even in a sale, housing experts say.

Some of these homeowners say they’re unwilling or unable to wait that long.

RealtyTrac executive Rick Sharga said many borrowers are disgusted with their lenders, feeling as though the banks are “stonewalling” their attempts to seek mortgage modifications and stay in the homes.

“There’s a lot of visceral anger at the banks right now,” Sharga said, adding that there may be fewer people walking away from homes if they felt lenders were negotiating in good faith.

Lenders insist they are, pointing to the mortgage modification offices they’ve set up across the country to help borrowers who can demonstrate actual need.

“With people who can afford their payments but their home is worth less than what they owe, that is not considered a hardship,” said Nancy Norris, a spokeswoman for banking giant Chase.

Sharga says the nation’s housing market is in the process of a “long, slow, relatively flat recovery that probably won’t feel much better until about 2013.”

The Mortgage Bankers Association issued a report Wednesday that sent mixed signals about delinquencies and foreclosures. Some figures indicating a drop in the rate of distressed loans weren’t seasonally adjusted, but other numbers that were adjusted showed minor increases in late payments.

Jay Brinkmann, chief economist for the trade group, said in a statement that Florida is getting worse when it comes to delinquencies and foreclosures.

Meanwhile, Sharga and Flint said lenders are doing a good job of managing inventories of foreclosed homes.

RealtyTrac has as many as 800,000 bank-owned homes in its database, but less than 30 percent are for sale. Gradually putting those on the market helps prevent major price declines, Sharga said.

Copyright © 2010 Sun Sentinel, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Paul Owers. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.