Tag Archives: Recession

Attacks on foreclosure attorneys – a newer industry gathers steam with “robosigners” and “foreclosuregate” despite forecast of 2 million foreclosures per year.

"Foreclosuregate" and "robo-signers" seem to be words fading from the public lexicon, although in September and October 2010, such words dominated business media.

"Robosigners" were individuals who signed vast numbers of foreclosure related documents (usually, affidavits for those states requiring bank affidavits in the processing of a foreclosure). The vast number of documents signed per month by such individuals begged the question of whether such individuals were truly signing and reviewing the foreclosure related documents and affidavits.

"Foreclosuregate" was the general name given to foreclosures that may have been flawed – either because the foreclosure was done with "robosigner" documents or was subject of some other technical mis-procedure.

Banks, their employees and their outsourced employees rushing "robosigned" documents through a foreclosure court (in those few states requiring a judge’s signature or judicial proceeding to foreclose – Washington state is not one of these states) may be undesirable, but perhaps understandable. Over 2.25 million foreclosures are expected in 2010, and 2 million more expected in each of 2011 and 2012. Many of these homes are abandoned – and many more involve owners who could not afford any mortgage payment whatsoever, so for that subgroup, even a modification is not plausible.

Perhaps three questions should be considered before the cheers grow to burn the foreclosure lawyers and the banks at the stake: First, did or did not the homeowner borrow funds to purchase a home? Second, did or did not the homeowner fail to make the payments? Third, what is to be gained by giving someone a "free house" by alleging technical procedural problems in a foreclosure?

Perhaps the most widley recognized consumer advocate attorney pursuing banks is O. Max Gardner, III, a Shelby, N.C. attorney. Mr. Gardner offers a "bootcamp" to lawyers to teach bankruptcy litigation techniques. Mr. Gardner is referenced the the October 16, 2010, NY Times article of Barry Meier – see link below:

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/16/business/16legal.html?_r=1&scp=1&sq=foreclosure%20mess%20draws%20in%20the%20filing%20lawyers,%20too&st=cse

Housing prices will not return to previous levels for 13 years – commercial space could be vacant for 10 years – NY Times

Median house prices have dropped 20 percent since 2005. Given an inflation rate of about 2 percent – a common forecast – it would take 13 years for housing prices to climb back to their previous levels – and that assumes no further value/price drops.

In Atlanta, the Southeast’s tallest building, the Bank of America tower, is one-fifth vacant – and the B of A just wrestled a rent decrease from the developer of the building.

In Cherry Hill, NJ, 10 percent of the houses on the market are so-called short sales, in which sellers ask for less than they owe lenders.

Commercial vacancies are soaring, and it could take a decade to absorb the excess in many of the largest cities. The commercial vacancy rates (end of June 2010) stand at 21.4% in Phoenix, 19.7% in Las Vegas, 18.3% in Dallas/Fort Worth & 17.3% in Atlanta, according to data firm CoStar Group.

According to the NY Times’ MIchael Powell and Motoko Rich’s October 13, 2010, article, "Some of the homes being offered at distressed prices are dragging down prices for less troubled homeowners who hope to sell. And with [some] foreclosures in disarray, the market could be further weakened."

"Even someone who is trying to sell a normal, well-maintained house is at the mercy of these low prices," said Walter Bud Crane, agent with Re/Max of Cherry Hill, NJ, as uoted by Powell and Rich.

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9D06E7DC173EF930A25753C1A9669D8B63&scp=1&sq=Across+the+U.S.%2C+a+Long+Recovery+Looks+Much&st=nyt

The best $20.00 you may spend this year: The National Consumer Law Center’s “Guide to Surviving Debt”

Don’t wait..don’t walk…don’t meander…but RUN!!!! to your computer and buy this book: "Guide to Surviving Debt", by the National Consumer Law Center, with principal author Deanne Loonin. See www.consumerlaw.org to order it directly from the NCLC.

What is the National Consumer Law Center? It is a group of people who care about you! "NCLC is the nation’s expert on the rights of consumer borrowers. Since 1969, NCLC has been at the forefront in representing low income consumers, before the courts, government agencies, Congress, and state legislatures. [] NCLC publishes nationally acclaimed series of manuals on all major aspects of consumer credit and sales" – Excerpted from the 2010 edition of "Guide to Surviving Debt".

Frankly, how can you go wrong with a book that offers the following chapters (this is just a sampling, not an exhaustive list of the 21 Chapters of the 493 page "Guide to Surviving Debt"):

-Choosing which Debts to Pay First

-Establishing a Budget

-What You Need to Know About Your Credit Report – How to Obtain a Home Mortgage with a Blemished Credit Report

-Credit Counseling and "Debt Relief" Companies

-Responding to Debt Collectors

-Collection Lawsuits

-Mortgage Workouts

-What You Need to Know About Your Mortgage

-Defending Your Home From Foreclosure – Your Rights in the Mortgage Foreclosure Process

-Utility Terminations

-Automobile Repossessions – Your Rights When the Creditor Makes a Mistake

-Student Loans – Pros and Cons of Consolidation and Rehabilitation

-Many, many more topics and chapters beyond just the preceding!!!!!

Here are some of the "Guide to Surviving Debt" reviews, excerpted:

"A gold mine on topics like how to handle collectors, which debts to pay first and how collection lawsuits work" – U.S. News and World Report

"Great advice, from the nation’s experts, on how to pull yourself out of debt." – Jane Bryant Quinn

This book has been around for many years, but is updated every couple of years, with the most recent udpate completed for 2010. Prior editions were completed for 1992, 1996, 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and 2008. Make sure you nail down the 2010 edition.

This book is helpful to me as an attorney (even though it is clearly written for "the man/woman on the street") – because it is so well written in its approach. It really tells you step #1, step #2 etc, in its "what to do/what not to do" approach, that you will find much assistance.

This book is great. Even if you should file bankruptcy with our office, when your bankrutpcy is all done, gone and settled, I can assure you that you will find helpful info that will keep you out of bankruptcy court again.

Genesis of “foreclosuregate” and “robosigners” – it all began in Denmark, Maine with Nicole Bradbury, retired lawyer Thomas A. Cox, Pine Tree Legal Assistance and GMAC’s Jeffrey Stephan

NY Times’ David Streitfeld assembles a fascinating and historically important article "From This House, a National Foreclosure Freeze" NY Times October 15, 2010.

Retired banking lawyer Thomas A. Cox, working as a volunteer at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Maine, launched a national firestorm which helped bring the terms "foreclosuregate" and "robosigners" to the common lexicon.

Mr. Cox, a retired volunteer legal aid attorney, begain working on Ms. Bradbury’sGMAC foreclosure file in the summer of 2009.

Mr. Streitfeld’s reporting is concise: "Mr. Cox voiced to a colleague that he would expose GMAC’s proces and its limited signing officer Jeffrey Stephan, but Mr. Cox wanted to take the questioning much further. In June, he got his chance. A few weeks later, he spelled out in a court filing what he had learned from the robo-signer: ‘When Stephan says in an affidavit that he has personal knowledge of the facts stated in his affidavits, he doesn’t. When he says that he has custody and control of the loan documents, he doesn’t. When he says that he is attaching a true and accurate copy of a note or a mortgage, he has no idea if that is so, because he does not lok at the exhibits. When he makes any other statement of fact, he has no idea if it is true. When the notary says that Stephan appeared before him or her, he didn’t.’… it was not a complete loss for GMAC – Judge Powers declined to find the lender in contempt – but nearly so."

The article by Mr. Streitfeld alleges that GMAC had been admonished in another legal battle in Florida some four years ago for having used "robosigners".

Mr. Cox’s legal savvy is to be commended. But frankly, doesn’t the entire "foreclosuregate" dispute really beg the question: that despite the allegedly flawed attestation of "robosigner" Jeffrey Stephan on GMAC’s behalf – why should Ms. Bradbury of Denmark, Maine, get to live for free? Don’t you have to pay your mortgage or rent? How much free housing will Ms. Bradbury receive because of Mr. Stephan’s "robosigner" position with GMAC?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/15/business/15maine.html?scp=1&sq=from+this+house%2C+a+national+foreclosure+freeze&st=nyt

There are easily two sides to this coin….

10 Worst American Real Estate Markets – SUPRISE! Not all of them are in Michigan!

Now folks, this link was just too darn interesting to pass up, so here it is for a quick read. You may have to wait a moment for the iritating “pop up screen with shade over the article” to pass, but after it passes in about 20 seconds,you will be able to read a fascinating (and shocking) article with eye-popping statistics on the current state of real estate markets in America. Who would have thought Santa Cruz, CA would make the list…read on….