BOSTON GLOBE: A New Act In Foreclosure Circus

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BOSTON GLOBE: A New Act In Foreclosure Circus

BOSTON GLOBE: A New Act In Foreclosure Circus

By Paul McMorrow
January 14, 2011

LAST WEEK’S Supreme Judicial Court decision, in which the court upended a pair of Springfield foreclosures and upbraided Wells Fargo and US Bank for maintaining sloppy records is great news for homeowners facing foreclosure. Mortgage-servicing banks, which were in the habit of trading mortgages around like cheap baseball cards, will be forced to slow the pace of foreclosures even more, and carefully verify that they actually own the mortgages on the properties they want to foreclose on. But the decision brings uncertainty to buyers of foreclosed properties — buyers who might not have clear title to their homes anymore.

The SJC decision in Ibanez vs. US Bancorp justifiably beat up on a pair of banks that couldn’t prove they owned mortgages they foreclosed on. The reverberations should be especially strong for mortgage investors and big banks.

Investors who bought up bonds backed by huge pools of mortgages have already been pressuring banks to buy back pools of bad mortgages that they sold before the housing bubble collapsed. These cases only cover a relatively small universe of poorly underwritten loans, but billions of dollars are at stake. Investors burned by mortgage bets have been trying to line up a much more expansive set of lawsuits challenging not the mortgages themselves, but the way big banks handled them after they were sold. The Ibanez decision gives serious weight to those investors, who are eying massive potential payouts.

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