There’s a lot going on with the foreclosure situation. I heard that Bank of America halted foreclosures for the time being. So, what’s going on?
Have you ever heard the old saying “the job isn’t finished until the paperwork is done”? Well, the job isn’t finished until the paperwork is done PROPERLY.
I think it goes like this:
Banks digitized mortgage notes
Digitized mortgage notes went to MERS
MERS bundled the notes into REMICs (Real-Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, a special vehicle designed to hold the loans for tax purposes)
Notes were sold to different investors but neither MERS or the REMICs owned the notes
Chain of title is broken
Owner no longer owes on the loan
Congress tries to make the fraud legal by sneaking through the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act
President vetoes the bill
Bank of America and other mortgage holders halt all foreclosures and foreclosure sales
If I have it wrong, I am certainly open to correction!
In the crazed frenzy to get as many mortgages securitized during the Oughts, banks took shortcuts with the paperwork necessary for the Mortgage Backed Securities. The reason was because everyone in the chain of this securitization mania got a little piece of the action—a little slice of the MBS pie in the shape of commissions.
So in the name of “improved efficiencies” (and how many horror stories are we finding out, carried out in the name of “improved efficiencies”), banks digitized the mortgage notes—they didn’t physically endorse them, like they were supposed to by the various state and Federal laws.
“MERS was the repository of these digitized mortgage notes that the banks originated from the actual mortgage loans signed by homebuyers. MERS was jointly owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (yes, those two again …I know, I know: like the chlamydia and the gonorrhea of the financial world…you cure ‘em, but they just keep coming back).
“The purpose of MERS was to help in the securitization process. Basically, MERS directed defaulting mortgages to the appropriate tranches of mortgage bonds. MERS was essentially where the digitized mortgage notes were sliced and diced and rearranged so as to create the mortgage-backed securities. Think of MERS as Dr. Frankenstein’s operating table, where the beast got put together.
“However, legally…and this is the important part…MERS didn’t hold any mortgage notes: the true owner of the mortgage notes should have been the REMICs.
“But the REMICs didn’t own the notes either, because of a fluke of the ratings agencies: the REMICs had to be “bankruptcy remote,” in order to get the precious ratings needed to peddle mortgage-backed Securities to institutional investors.
“So somewhere between the REMICs and MERS, the chain of title was broken.
“Now, what does ‘broken chain of title’ mean? Simple: when a homebuyer signs a mortgage, the key document is the note. As I said before, it’s the actual IOU. In order for the mortgage note to be sold or transferred to someone else (and therefore turned into a mortgage-backed security), this document has to be physically endorsed to the next person. All of these signatures on the note are called the ‘chain of title.’
“To repeat: if the chain of title of the note is broken, then the borrower no longer owes any money on the loan.
“Read that last sentence again, please. Don’t worry, I’ll wait.
“You read it again? Good: Now you see the can of worms that’s opening up.
“As soon as the White House announced the pocket veto…the very next day!…Bank of America halted all foreclosures, nationwide.”
“The move by the United States Congress last week, to sneak by the Interstate Recognition of Notarizations Act? That was all the banking lobby. They wanted to shove down that law, so that their foreclosure mills’ forged and fraudulent documents would not be scrutinized by out-of-state judges. (The spineless cowards in the Senate carried out their master’s will by a voice vote…so that there would be no registry of who had voted for it, and therefore no accountability.)
“And President Obama’s pocket veto of the measure? He had to veto it…if he’d signed it, there would have been political hell to pay, plus it would have been challenged almost immediately, and likely overturned as unconstitutional in short order. (But he didn’t have the gumption to come right out and veto it…he pocket vetoed it.)