Chain Of Title | FORECLOSURE FRAUD | by DinSFLA

Tag Archive | "chain of title"

Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Amicus Brief of Oregon AG John Kroger on Hooker v Northwest Trustee, BofA & MERS lawsuit pending before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


Hi/5 Dan Marsh

IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS
FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT

IVAN HOOKER, KATHERINE HOOKER

v.

NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES, INC.;
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC
REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.,

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Robosigning focuses attention on title companies

Robosigning focuses attention on title companies


TIC-TOC…

SFGATE-

Chain of title – proof of who really owns a house – underpins the entire U.S. system of real estate.

Broken chain of title due to slipshod paperwork was a serious issue uncovered in the nationwide robosigning scandal and again last month in a city report that found San Francisco foreclosure paperwork riddled with errors.

Those revelations draw new attention to title companies, which insure a home’s clear title for both buyers and lenders.

“If there is not a clear chain of title in the foreclosure process, how can there be a clear chain of title for the person buying foreclosed property?” said San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting, who commissioned the audit. “Given our report, it calls into question whether entities selling a foreclosure really have the right to transfer that property to somebody else.”

Read more: [SFGATE]

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Massachusetts, Florida Look to Wrap Up Foreclosure Due Process

Massachusetts, Florida Look to Wrap Up Foreclosure Due Process


HUNDREDS of YEARS gone in SECONDS!


FDL-

As much as state and federal officials want to describe the foreclosure fraud settlement as a beginning, in many respects it was most certainly an ending. Analysts invested in the meme that “uncertainty” was crippling the housing market now are heavily invested in saying that the clearing of this uncertainty through the settlement will speed up the foreclosure machine. Diana Olick gives a version of that today which makes absolutely no sense, because all the data comes from the fourth quarter of 2011.

But nevertheless, she’s on to something. With state AGs releasing liability for foreclosure fraud, legislators in some key states are picking up where they left off, removing additional barriers to foreclosure, shutting down due process and subverting the implications of judicial rulings.

For example, in Massachusetts, lawmakers have introduced a bill to indemnify buyers of foreclosed properties from title defects that have been exposed by the Ibanez case.

The bill, if approved, will amend the state foreclosure laws to validate a foreclosure, even if it’s technically deficient under the Ibanez ruling, so long as the previously foreclosed owner does not file a legal challenge to the validity of the foreclosure within 90 days of the foreclosure auction.

The bill has support from both the community/housing sector and the real estate industry. Indeed, the left-leaning Citizens’ Housing and Planning Association (CHAPA), non-profit umbrella organization for affordable housing and community development activities in Massachusetts, has filed written testimony in support of the bill.

Properties afflicted with Ibanez title defects, in worst cases, cannot be sold or refinanced. Homeowners without title insurance are compelled to spend thousands in legal fees to clear their titles. Allowing such foreclosed properties to sit and languish in title purgatory is a huge drain on individual, innocent home purchasers and the housing market itself.

[FIRE DOG LAKE]

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Title Issues? Defective Paperwork? Banks Pay Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures

Title Issues? Defective Paperwork? Banks Pay Homeowners to Avoid Foreclosures


Cecala of Inside Mortgage Finance said he wonders whether lenders are making big payments on properties with underlying title problems. Evan Berlin, managing partner of Berlin Patten, a real estate law firm in Sarasota, Florida, said representatives of a large bank told him the incentives are primarily given to borrowers when it doesn’t have the proper paperwork needed to win its foreclosure case. He declined to name the bank for publication.

Prashant Gopal-

Banks, accelerating efforts to move troubled mortgages off their books, are offering as much as $35,000 or more in cash to delinquent homeowners to sell their properties for less than they owe.

Lenders have routinely delayed or blocked such transactions, known as short sales, in which they accept less from a buyer than the seller’s outstanding loan. Now banks have decided the deals are faster and less costly than foreclosures, which have slowed in response to regulatory probes of abusive practices. Banks are nudging potential sellers by pre-approving deals, streamlining the closing process, forgoing their right to pursue unpaid debt and in some cases providing large cash incentives, said Bill Fricke, senior credit officer for Moody’s Investors Service in New York.

Losses for lenders are about 15 percent lower on the sales than on foreclosures, which can take years to complete while taxes and legal, maintenance and other costs accumulate, according to Moody’s. The deals accounted for 33 percent of financially distressed transactions in November, up from 24 percent a year earlier, said CoreLogic Inc., a Santa Ana, California-based real estate information company.

Karen Farley hadn’t made a mortgage payment in a year when she got what looked like a form letter from her lender.

“You could sell your home, owe nothing more on your mortgage and get $30,000,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) said in the Aug. 17 letter obtained by Bloomberg News.

[BLOOMBERG]

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NC court weighs if foreclosure needs original docs

NC court weighs if foreclosure needs original docs


This part of the article doesn’t settle well for me:

The hearing in a state traditionally friendly to banks and home to U.S. industry leader Bank of America comes as paperwork problems have gummed up foreclosures nationwide.

Boston Herald-

RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina’s Supreme Court heard arguments today in a case that could decide whether mortgage lenders can foreclose on a home without producing original documents that prove they’re owed the money.

The hearing in a state traditionally friendly to banks and home to U.S. industry leader Bank of America comes as paperwork problems have gummed up foreclosures nationwide.

Those problems include missing documents validating a mortgage transaction and unqualified employees “robo-signing” affidavits improperly swearing to the accuracy of overdue mortgage debts. The problem of suspect documents could create legal trouble for homeowners and mortgage lenders for years.

[BOSTON HERALD]

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DOBSON v. WELLS FARGO | AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANT LINDA G. DOBSON

DOBSON v. WELLS FARGO | AMICUS CURIAE BRIEF IN SUPPORT OF APPELLANT LINDA G. DOBSON


SUPREME COURT OF NORTH CAROLINA

LINDA G. DOBSON,

Plaintiff-Appellant,

v.

SUBSTITUTE TRUSTEE SERVICES, 
INC., Substitute Trustee and WELLS
FARGO BANK MINNESOTA, N.A.
as Trustee for Equivantage Home Equity
Loan Trust, 1996-4, Note Holder,
EQUVANTAGE, INC., and AMERICA‘S
SERVICING COMPANY,

Defendants-Appellees.

****************************
PROPOSED BRIEF OF AMICI CURIAE NORTH CAROLINA JUSTICE CENTER, NORTH CAROLINA ADVOCATES FOR JUSTICE, CENTER FOR RESPONSIBLE LENDING, MAINE ATTORNEYS SAVING HOMES, THE FINANCIAL PROTECTION LAW CENTER, AARP, AND THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF CONSUMER ADVOCATES IN SUPPORT OF PLAINTIFF-APPELLANT
*****************************

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The Mortgage Crisis, MERS, and Chapter 13

The Mortgage Crisis, MERS, and Chapter 13


The Mortgage Crisis was created by Mortgage Lenders, Banks, and Financial Institutions through the use of sub-prime lending and mortgage-backed securities. This article explores this crisis within the context of bankruptcy by examining sub-prime lending, mortgage securitization, MERS, and the situations that the U.S. Bankruptcy courts and trustees have dealth with the fallout of the mortgage crisis first hand.

This article was the 2010-2011 National Association of Chapter 13 Trustees Law School Writing Competition Winning article. Its full citation is:

Michael Wennerlund, “The Mortgage Crisis, MERS, and Chapter 13,” NACTT Quarterly, Fall, Vol. 23, No. 4, 28-35

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NY Post finds in 92% of NY area foreclosures, banks fail to prove ownership to foreclose

NY Post finds in 92% of NY area foreclosures, banks fail to prove ownership to foreclose


NY POST-

The banks still just don’t get it.

In a staggering 92 percent of the claims brought by creditors asserting the right to foreclose against bankrupt families in New York City and the close-in suburbs, banks and mortgage servicers couldn’t prove they had the right to kick the families out on the street, a three-month probe by The Post has shown.

But that didn’t stop the banks from trying.

By robosigning documents and pressing foreclosures without the proper paperwork, banks have attempted to steamroll their way over sometimes-outgunned homeowners, The Post has uncovered.

But homeowners and the courts are starting to fight back.

Read more:

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/business/house_of_cards_hNdx5fNGt6oOl1U9mTW0HN#ixzz1V3P5SA00

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MERS: The Unreported Effects of Lost Chain of Title on Real Property Owners

MERS: The Unreported Effects of Lost Chain of Title on Real Property Owners


By: David E. Woolley

HARBINGER ANALYTICS GROUP

FORWARD

It has been widely reported that MERS1 has broken or severely diluted2 the chain of title for real property records, but what does this mean? To understand the importance of the chain of title to a property and the complexities of land boundaries we need to look no further than the advice given to practicing attorneys.

“To properly evaluate a case, counsel and survey experts often must examine chains of title for all properties subject to the dispute. In the case of a boundary dispute, it may be necessary to search the chain of title back to a patent to determine paramount title or to locate true boundaries.” 3

As is readily apparent, a broken chain of title will have adverse effects on adjoining properties and in many instances the boundaries of properties within an entire neighborhood. Attorneys are advised to “seriously consider not taking the case or withdrawing from it.” If attorneys are advised to “seriously consider” withdrawing, how will the common victim of MERS (by proxy) get relief?

The complexity of the problem is obvious. As lenders and title insurers pass responsibility back and forth, property owners who purchased a foreclosed property that had been in the MERS system (and now have broken chains of title) and their neighbors will be forced into expensive and complex litigation in order to determine their boundaries.

Who will be financially responsible for the litigation to quiet title?
This White Paper documents the importance of a chain of title and the far reaching effects of a lost chain of title.

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Nevada Supreme Court: You Gotta Prove Chain of Title

Nevada Supreme Court: You Gotta Prove Chain of Title


Credit Slips-

A pair of very interesting foreclosure rulings were handed down today by the Nevada Supreme Court. They provide further evidence that documentation problems are rife in the mortgage industry, including documents showing chain of title. They also provide another example of a state supreme court demanding proof of valid chain of title before permitting foreclosure.

Both cases arise from Nevada’s foreclosure mediation program. In one case, Pasillas v. HSBC Bank USA, the Nevada Supreme Court ordered sanctions against HSBC for failing to mediate in good faith. What was the failure? HSBC failed to show up at the mediation with the required loan documentation, namely two pages of the mortgage note were missing, the assignment to HSBC was incomplete, a BPO rather than an appraisal was provided.  Moreover, HSBC didn’t show up at the mediation with authority to settle because it still required “investor approval.” The foreclosure mediator refused on these ground to authorize the foreclosure. The district court ordered the foreclosure to proceed, but the Nevada Supreme Court reversed the ruling and remanded with instructions for the district court to determine appropriate sanctions.

Continue reading [CREDIT SLIPS]

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Fannie Responds to Hawaii’s New Foreclosure Law – Says… WE’RE OUT!

Fannie Responds to Hawaii’s New Foreclosure Law – Says… WE’RE OUT!


Mandelman-

If you’ve been following the goings on in Hawaii as related to SB 651, the state’s new foreclosure law that requires servicers foreclosing non-judicially to produce chain of title documents, including assignments and endorsements prior to scheduling mandatory dispute resolution in front of a mediator, here’s a piece of news you’ll want to hear.

And, even if you haven’t been following the situation pertaining to foreclosures in Hawaii, but you’ve often wondered what the banks would do if they were forced to prove they actually own a home, or represent a trust that holds the actual note, BEFORE foreclosing… you’ll want to hear this too.


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Prof. Levitin on the “assault on the legal system”, ie challenging standing in foreclosure, according to the banks

Prof. Levitin on the “assault on the legal system”, ie challenging standing in foreclosure, according to the banks


Credit Slips-

Nick Timiraos has a great piece in the WSJ about the state of play on foreclosure defense litigation. It quotes Larry Platt, a bank-industry lawyer at K&L Gates (which lost Ibanez). It’s worth pausing for a second to consider what Platt said.  Although Platt

concedes that banks may have been sloppy… [he claims that]… “the real assault on the legal system” are efforts by judges and local officials to strip lenders of their rightful ownership and make foreclosures impossible.

Platt’s view, it seems, is that everyone understood the mortgage deal and that the paperwork doesn’t really matter. That’s a very problematic view for any attorney to take, much less one with a background in real estate, secured lending, and securitization. (A less charitable interpretation of Platt’s comments is that the proper outcomes has nothing to do with law.  Instead, it’s paperwork and intent be damned, we’re the banks so we should win by right.)


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MERS foreclosure amendment dies in Oregon House committee

MERS foreclosure amendment dies in Oregon House committee


Oregon Live-

A late attempt by the finance industry to change Oregon mortgage recording laws is dead.

Oregon House Judiciary co-chair Wayne Krieger opened a hearing this afternoon and said the amendment sought by loan servicers, title companies and credit unions would not pass out of the committee today. Minutes later, the committee voted to approve Senate Bill 519, the bill that the financial industry lobby attempted to amend.


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Oregon SB 519 MERS foreclosure fix postponed but effort appears in jeopardy, legislator says

Oregon SB 519 MERS foreclosure fix postponed but effort appears in jeopardy, legislator says


At least they agree a cloud hoovers over foreclosures…

Oregon Live-

A bid by major financial institutions to retroactively waive Oregon recording requirements blocking foreclosure sales appears in jeopardy but will get at least one more day, a legislative leader says.


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SB 519 | Oregon Financial Industry Lobby, Proposed “MERS” Amendment, Past and Future Foreclosure Sales with Improperly Recorded Deeds

SB 519 | Oregon Financial Industry Lobby, Proposed “MERS” Amendment, Past and Future Foreclosure Sales with Improperly Recorded Deeds


Poll: Should Oregon lawmakers give foreclosures, MERS a do-over?

OregonLive-

A federal judge this week issued a stern rebuke to big banks and the Mortgage Electronic Registration System in its handling of foreclosures and what he called a violation of a long-standing Oregon recording law.

Now, the financial industry lobby wants the Oregon Legislature to amend an affordable housing bill to retroactively waive those reporting requirements.

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Oregon Court Denies MTD “The apparent gap in chain of title is not the only issue that causes me concern” HOOKER v. NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SVS, BofA, MERS

Oregon Court Denies MTD “The apparent gap in chain of title is not the only issue that causes me concern” HOOKER v. NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SVS, BofA, MERS


IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON

IVAN HOOKER, KATHERINE HOOKER

v.

NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES, INC.; BANK OF AMERICA, N.A.; MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC.,

Excerpts:

Considering what is commonly known about the MERS system and the secondary market in mortgage loans, plaintiffs allege sufficient facts to make clear that defendants violated the Oregon Trust Deed Act by failing to record all assignments of the trust deed. 3 Therefore, defendants’ motion to dismiss is DENIED.

[…]

Although not affecting my conclusion here, the MIN Summary raises an additional concern relevant to numerous cases pending fore me. As noted above, GN is listed as Lender on both the trust deed and the note. The MIN Summary, however, makes no mention of GN. In fact, MIN Summary is silent as to how or when Guaranty Bank became an “Investor” holding the beneficial interest in the trust deed. (Jan. 31, 2011 McCarthy Decl., Ex. 1, 2.) The MIN Summary indicates only that on December 1, 2005, Guaranty Bank registered the in the MERS system. What occurred before registration, and how or when Guaranty Bank obtained any interest the loan (from GN or another) is not revealed.

The apparent gap in chain of title is not the only issue that causes me concern….

[…]

Foreclosure by advertisement and sale, which is designed to take place outside of any judicial review, necessarily relies on the foreclosing party to accurately review and assess its own authority to foreclose. Considering that non-judicial foreclosure of one’s home is a particularly harsh event, and given the numerous problems I see in nearly every non-judicial foreclosure case I preside over, a procedure relying on a bank or trustee to self-assess its own authority to foreclose is deeply troubling to me.

I recognize that MERS, and its registered bank users, created much of the confusion involved in the foreclosure process…. [T]he MERS system creates confusion as to who has the authority to do what with the trust deed. The MERS system raises serious concerns regarding the appropriateness and validity of foreclosure by advertisement and sale outside of any judicial proceeding.

Additionally, the MERS system allowed the rise of the secondary market and securitization of home loans. A lender intending to immediately sell a loan on the secondary market is not concerned with the risk involved in the loan, but with the fees generated. If a lender aims to quickly pass a loan off onto an investor, a stated-income loan appears not as an unacceptable risk, but as an income stream. MERS makes it much more difficult for all parties to discover who “owns” the loan. When a borrower on the verge of default cannot find out who has the authority to modify the loan, a modification or a short sale, even if beneficial to both the borrower and the beneficiary, cannot occur.

When no borrowers default, the problems inherent in the MERS system may go unnoticed. Unfortunately for banks, borrowers, investors, and courts throughout the country, many borrowers are now defaulting. Countless grantors of trust deeds now face the harsh prospect of losing a home outside of any judicial proceeding. At the same time, the MERS system greatly increased the number of investors stuck holding worthless notes. A lender that knows it will immediately sell a loan on the secondary market has no incentive to ensure the appraisal of the security is accurate. Similarly, the lender need not concern itself with the veracity of any representations made to the borrower. In short, the MERS system allows the lender to shirk its traditional due diligence duties. The requirement under Oregon law that all assignments be recorded prior to a non-judicial foreclosure is sound public policy.

continue below…

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Judges See Little Improvement in Foreclosure Procedures, But Where’s The Note?

Judges See Little Improvement in Foreclosure Procedures, But Where’s The Note?


Wall Street Journal-

F. Dana Winslow, a N.Y. State Supreme Court Justice in Long Island’s Nassau County, said there has been only “a marginal improvement in what is being submitted to the court.”

For example, financial institutions are “showing a better chain of title” about who owns the debt, he said. “But I’m not seeing any additional clarity on who has control over the actual mortgage note signed by the borrower and lender and where the note is.”

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MA BK Judge Vacates Own Ruling “MERS Assignment Fail, Securitization Fail, Deutsche Was NOT Owner of Mortgage” IN RE: SCHWARTZ

MA BK Judge Vacates Own Ruling “MERS Assignment Fail, Securitization Fail, Deutsche Was NOT Owner of Mortgage” IN RE: SCHWARTZ


Ibanez, 458 Mass. at 651 (emphasis added). None of the evidence thus far presented at trial indicated that the plaintiff’s mortgage was part of the Trust Fund, or how the Depositor acquired the Trust Fund.

In re: SIMA SCHWARTZ, Debtor.

SIMA SCHWARTZ, Plaintiff,

v.

HOMEQ SERVICING, AGENT FOR DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL TRUST COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE and DEUTSCHE BANK NATIONAL COMPANY, AS TRUSTEE, Defendants.

Case No. 06-42476-MSH, Adv. Pro. No. 07-04098.

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Massachusetts, Central Division.

April 7, 2011.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER ON PLAINTIFF?S MOTION FOR A NEW TRIAL

Excerpt:

A central question at trial was whether defendant Deutsche was the owner of the mortgage on the plaintiff’s home during the foreclosure process which resulted in the foreclosure sale of the home on May 24, 2006.2 The plaintiff introduced into evidence a document entitled “Assignment of Mortgage” dated May 23, 2006, which reflected the assignment of the plaintiff’s mortgage from the original mortgagee, Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., as nominee for First NCL Financial Services, LLC, to defendant Deutsche. During the plaintiff’s case, all parties agreed that this assignment was dated prior to the date of the foreclosure sale. No party disputed its authenticity or validity. Because the assignment was executed prior to the foreclosure sale and its validity was not questioned, I ruled at trial that the plaintiff had failed to carry her burden of proving that Deutsche was not the owner of the mortgage when it foreclosed.

In her motion for a new trial, the plaintiff argues that I misconstrued Massachusetts law, pointing out that the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in U.S. Bank. Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 458 Mass. 673, 941 N.E.2d 40 (2011) recently held that in order for a foreclosure sale to be valid the mortgage must have been assigned to the foreclosing entity not merely before the sale, but prior to the first publication of notice of that sale required by Mass. Gen. Laws. ch. 244, § 14. Ibanez, 458 Mass. at 647-48. I agree with the plaintiff’s interpretation of Ibanez and since the May 23, 2006 assignment was executed after the foreclosure notices had been published, I could not rely on the assignment exclusively in granting the defendants judgment on partial findings. In light of the foregoing I must determine whether and to what extent to open the March 6, 2011 judgment for the defendants.

In Count I of the complaint, the plaintiff seeks a ruling that the foreclosure sale was invalid. Not only does the March 23, 2006 assignment fail to establish the validity of the foreclosure sale, it constitutes the only evidence presented that at the time Deutsche began publishing notice of the sale, Deutsche was not the holder of the mortgage. The defendants argue that the pooling and servicing agreement dated November 1, 2005 which is listed in the joint pretrial  memorandum as a trial exhibit provides evidence that the mortgage on the plaintiff’s property was assigned to Deutsche well before the foreclosure process had begun. The excerpt of the pooling and servicing agreement that was admitted during the plaintiff’s case in chief, however, provides no such evidence. The excerpt indicates that an entity defined as the “Depositor” assigned the “Trust Fund”, which I presume included mortgages listed on a mortgage loan schedule not provided, to Deutsche, as Trustee for the benefit of the certificateholders of the Morgan Stanley Home Equity Loan Trust 2005-4. In Ibanez, the Supreme Judicial Court held that where, as here, a recordable assignment was not executed prior to the first publication of a notice of a foreclosure sale, the foreclosing entity may nevertheless prove that it was the mortgagee at the relevant time. The Court observed:

[w]here a pool of mortgages is assigned to a securitized trust, the executed agreement that assigns the pool of mortgages, with a schedule of the pooled mortgage loans that clearly and specifically identifies the mortgage at issue as among those assigned, may suffice to establish the trustee as the mortgage holder. However, there must be proof that the assignment was made by a party that itself held the mortgage.

Ibanez, 458 Mass. at 651 (emphasis added). None of the evidence thus far presented at trial indicated that the plaintiff’s mortgage was part of the Trust Fund, or how the Depositor acquired the Trust Fund.

I find that the plaintiff has presented sufficient evidence of the chain of title of the mortgage on her property to carry her burden of persuasion that the mortgage was not owned by Deutsche before the first publication of the notice of foreclosure sale. I must, therefore, vacate and open the judgment for the defendants on Count I of the complaint.

Continue below:

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AURORA v. Carlsen, Wis: Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2011 – REVERSED “FAILED MERS ASSIGNMENT, FAILED AFFIDAVIT, FAILED STANDING, FAILED CASE”

AURORA v. Carlsen, Wis: Court of Appeals, 4th Dist. 2011 – REVERSED “FAILED MERS ASSIGNMENT, FAILED AFFIDAVIT, FAILED STANDING, FAILED CASE”


AURORA LOAN SERVICES LLC,

PLAINTIFF-RESPONDENT,

V.

DAVID J. CARLSEN AND NANCY L. CARLSEN,

DEFENDANTS-APPELLANTS.

APPEAL from a judgment of the circuit court for Rock County:

JAMES WELKER, Judge. Reversed.

Before Vergeront, P.J., Lundsten and Blanchard, JJ.

¶1 LUNDSTEN, J. This appeal involves a foreclosure action initiated
by Aurora Loan Services against David and Nancy Carlsen. Following a court
trial, the circuit court granted judgment of foreclosure in favor of Aurora, finding
that Aurora is the holder of the note and owner of the mortgage and that the
Carlsens were in default. We conclude that the circuit court’s finding that Aurora
was the holder of the note, a finding essential to the judgment, is not supported by
admissible evidence. We therefore reverse the judgment.

Background

¶2 Aurora Loan Services brought a foreclosure suit against David and
Nancy Carlsen, alleging that Aurora was the holder of a note and owner of a
mortgage signed by the Carlsens encumbering the Carlsens’ property. The
Carlsens denied several allegations in the complaint and, especially pertinent here,
denied that Aurora was the holder of the note. Aurora moved for summary
judgment, but that motion was denied.

¶3 A trial to the court was held on June 9, 2010. Aurora called one of
its employees, Kelly Conner, as its only witness. Aurora attempted to elicit
testimony from Conner establishing a foundation for the admission of several
documents purportedly showing that Aurora was the holder of a note that
obligated the Carlsens to make payments and that the Carlsens were in default. It
is sufficient here to say that the Carlsens’ attorney repeatedly objected to questions
and answers based on a lack of personal knowledge and lack of foundation, and
that the circuit court, for the most part, sustained the objections. Aurora’s counsel
did not move for admission of any of the documents into evidence. After the
evidentiary portion of the trial, and after hearing argument, the circuit court made
findings of fact and entered a foreclosure judgment in favor of Aurora. The
Carlsens appeal. Additional facts will be presented below as necessary.

Discussion

¶4 It is undisputed that, at the foreclosure trial, Aurora had the burden
of proving, among other things, that Aurora was the current “holder” of a note
obligating the Carlsens to make payments to Aurora. Because Aurora was not the
original note holder, Aurora needed to prove that it was the current holder, which
meant proving that it had been assigned the note. There appear to be other failures
of proof, but in this opinion we focus our attention solely on whether Aurora
presented evidence supporting the circuit court’s findings that “the business
records of Aurora Loan Services show … a chain of assignment of that … note”
and that “Aurora is the holder of the note.”

¶5 As to assignment of the note, the Carlsens’ argument is simple: the
circuit court’s findings are clearly erroneous because there was no admissible
evidence supporting a finding that Aurora had been assigned the note. The
Carlsens contend that, during the evidentiary portion of the trial, the circuit court
properly sustained objections to Aurora’s assignment evidence, but the court then
appears to have relied on mere argument of Aurora’s counsel to make factual
findings on that topic. We agree.

¶6 We focus our attention on a document purporting to be an
assignment of the note and mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems to Aurora. At trial, this document was marked as Exhibit D. Although
Aurora’s counsel seemed to suggest at one point that certain documents, perhaps
including Exhibit D, were certified, the circuit court determined that the
documents were not certified. Under WIS. STAT. § 889.17,1 certified copies of
certain documents are admissible in evidence based on the certification alone.
Aurora does not contend that Exhibit D is admissible on this basis.

¶7 Aurora argues that Conner’s testimony is sufficient to support the
circuit court’s finding that Aurora had been assigned the note. Our review of her
testimony, however, reveals that Conner lacked the personal knowledge needed to
authenticate Exhibit D. See WIS. STAT. § 909.01 (documents must be
authenticated to be admissible, and this requirement is satisfied “by evidence
sufficient to support a finding that the matter in question is what its proponent
claims”). Relevant here, Conner made general assertions covering several
documents. Conner either affirmatively testified or agreed to leading questions
with respect to the following:

  • · She works for Aurora.
  • · She “handle[s] legal files” and she “attend[s] trials.”
  • · “Aurora provided those documents that are in [her] possession.”
  • · She “reviewed the subject file” in preparing for the hearing.
    • · She declined to agree that she is the “custodian of records for

Aurora.”

    • · She “look[s] at documentation … [does] not physically handle

original notes and documents, but [she does] acquire
documentation.”

  • · “Aurora [is] the custodian of records for this loan.”
  • · She is “familiar with records that are prepared in the ordinary course
    of business.”
  • · She has “authority from Aurora to testify as to the documents, of
    [Aurora’s] records.”

As it specifically pertains to Exhibit D, the document purporting to evidence the
assignment of the note and mortgage from Mortgage Electronic Registration
Systems to Aurora, Conner testified:

  • · Aurora has “possession of Exhibit D.”
  • · Exhibit D is “an assignment of mortgage.”

With respect to possession of Exhibit D, Conner did not assert that Exhibit D was
an original or that Aurora had possession of the original document. For that
matter, Conner did not provide a basis for a finding that any original document she
might have previously viewed was what it purported to be.2

¶8 Thus, Conner did no more than identify herself as an Aurora
employee who was familiar with some unspecified Aurora documents, who had
reviewed some Aurora documents, and who had brought some documents,
including Exhibit D, to court. Although Conner was able to say that Exhibit D, on
its face, was an assignment, she had no apparent personal knowledge giving her a
basis to authenticate that document. See WIS. STAT. § 909.01.

¶9 Aurora points to various provisions in WIS. STAT. chs. 401 and 403,
such as those relating to the definition of a “holder” (WIS. STAT.
§ 401.201(2)(km)), to a person entitled to enforce negotiable instruments (WIS.
STAT. § 403.301), and to the assignment of negotiable instruments (WIS. STAT.
§§ 403.203, 403.204, and 403.205). This part of Aurora’s argument addresses the
underlying substantive law regarding persons entitled to enforce negotiable
instruments, such as the type of note at issue here, but it says nothing about
Aurora’s proof problems. That is, Aurora’s discussion of the underlying law does
not demonstrate why Exhibit D was admissible to prove that Aurora had been
assigned the note and was, under the substantive law Aurora discusses, a party
entitled to enforce the note.

¶10 Similarly, Aurora discusses the relationship between a note and a
mortgage and, in particular, the equitable assignment doctrine. But here again
Aurora’s discussion fails to come to grips with Aurora’s failure to authenticate
Exhibit D, the document purporting to be an assignment of the note to Aurora.
Aurora points to testimony in which Conner asserted that Aurora acquired and
possessed Exhibit D, but possession of Exhibit D is meaningless without
authentication of the exhibit.

¶11 Aurora argues that we may look at the “record as a whole,”
including summary judgment materials, to sustain the circuit court’s factual
findings. Thus, for example, Aurora asks us to consider an affidavit filed with its
summary judgment motion. In that affidavit, an Aurora senior vice-president
avers that the note was assigned to Aurora, that the assignment was recorded with
the Rock County Register of Deeds, and that Aurora is the holder of the note. This
argument is meritless. Aurora was obliged to present its evidence at trial. It could
not rely on the “record as a whole” and, in particular, it could not rely on summary
judgment materials that were not introduced at trial. See Holzinger v. Prudential
Ins. Co., 222 Wis. 456, 461, 269 N.W. 306 (1936). For that matter, even if Aurora
had, at trial, proffered the affidavit of its senior vice-president, the affidavit would
have been inadmissible hearsay. See WIS. STAT. § 908.01(3) (“‘Hearsay’ is a
statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or
hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”).

¶12 In sum, Aurora failed to authenticate Exhibit D, the document
purporting to be an assignment of the note. Thus, regardless of other alleged proof
problems relating to that note and the Carlsens’ alleged default, the circuit court’s
finding that Aurora was the holder of the note is clearly erroneous—no admissible
evidence supports that finding. Aurora failed to prove its case, and it was not
entitled to a judgment of foreclosure.

By the Court.—Judgment reversed.

Not recommended for publication in the official reports.

_______________________________________

1All references to the Wisconsin Statutes are to the 2009-10 version unless otherwise noted.
 2 Our summary of Conner’s testimony omits several assertions Conner made that were
stricken by the circuit court. Similarly, we have not included examples of the circuit court
repeatedly sustaining hearsay and foundation objections. For example, the court repeatedly
sustained objections to Aurora’s attempts to have Conner testify that Aurora “owns” the note.
Aurora does not and could not reasonably argue that the Carlsens have not preserved their
authentication objections. The Carlsens’ attorney repeatedly and vigorously objected on hearsay,
foundation, and authentication grounds. The record clearly reflects that the Carlsens were
objecting to the admission of all of Aurora’s proffered documents on the ground that Conner
lacked sufficient knowledge to lay a foundation for admission.

[ipaper docId=51510952 access_key=key-2dcpf4gvzz30kaf45tk height=600 width=600 /]

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Deposition Transcript of SELECT PORTFOLIO SERVICING (SPS) MINDY LEETHAM

Deposition Transcript of SELECT PORTFOLIO SERVICING (SPS) MINDY LEETHAM


EXCERPTS:

Q Have you reviewed the Pooling and
Servicing Agreement in this case?
A No, I haven’t.
Q It’s my understanding I believe it was
objected to being produced. So up till today, have
you reviewed any document that allows you to speak
on behalf of Bank of New York?
A I haven’t.
Q Have you spoken to anyone at Bank of New
York to confirm that you are allowed to speak on
behalf of a separate corporate entity here today?
A No.

Q So as you sit here, do you know whether
you have the authority from the Bank of New York to
testify to these matters and to bind the Bank of New
York as a corporation?
A No.

Q Okay. And let me go back before I get
into the question one. You are not an officer of
the Bank of New York, correct?
A That’s correct.
Q You’re not a director of the Bank of New
York?
A Correct.
Q You’re not a managing agent of the Bank of
New York?
A Correct.

<SNIP>

Q What I’m getting at is the ownership of
the actual note and mortgage, not the servicing, but
the ownership. Do you have any other document that
would either confirm or contest whether

NationsCredit Mortgage Corporation of Florida owned
this note and mortgage in order to assign it as set
forth in Exhibit 2?
A Not that I know of

<SNIP>

Q So again, do you have anything at all that
suggests that NationsCredit Home Equity Services
Corporation ever owned this note?
A I don’t.

<SNIP>

Q Do you agree that the Bank of New York
lacked standing to file the 2004 case?
A Can you be more specific on your question?
Q Do you agree that the Bank of New York did
not own the note and mortgage at the time it filed
the 2004 case?
A Well, I can say that there’s no recorded
document showing that date.

<SNIP>


Q Do you agree that the lack of standing was clear?
A No.
Q Why not?
A Because of the overlapping of dates and
the obvious issues with the assignment chain, it’s not clear that it was straightforward.

Continue below…
[ipaper docId=51043744 access_key=key-17hvwa3aj1m8rwatd7fb height=600 width=600 /]

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BLOOMBERG | Arizona Bill Would Void Foreclosures Without Full Title History

BLOOMBERG | Arizona Bill Would Void Foreclosures Without Full Title History


Arizona may become the first state to require lenders to prove they have the right to foreclose by providing a complete list of any previous owners of the mortgage, under a bill passed yesterday by its Senate.

The legislation, which is headed to the House after being approved 28-2 in the Republican-dominated Senate, would allow foreclosure sales to be voided if lenders that didn’t originate the loan can’t produce the full chain of title. Arizona permits nonjudicial foreclosures, meaning property can be seized from the homeowner without a court order.

Lawmakers in states including New York, Oregon and Virginia also have proposed legislation to address concerns among consumer advocates that lenders or mortgage servicers are using incomplete or false paperwork to repossess properties in default. The attorneys general of all 50 states are jointly investigating how the mortgage-servicing industry operates.

“If you foreclose on somebody you should have to tell them who owns the property,” Michele Reagan, who sponsored Senate Bill 1259, said in a telephone interview. “People have the right in this country to face their accusers.” The Republican lawmaker is in litigation with her mortgage servicer, which she said won’t identify the owner of the loan.

Continue reading HERE

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Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased

Utah’s “Quiet Title Law” Bypasses MERS, Awards Homes Free and Clear; One Homeowner Had $417,000 Debt Erased


Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Monday, January 17, 2011 1:33 AM

The Salt Lake Tribune has an interesting article on Utah’s “Quiet Title Laws”, MERS, clouded titles, and record keeping. Several people won titles free and clear to their houses or condos when debts as great as $417,000 were dismissed in court. Here are a few snips.

A Utah court case in which the owner of a Draper townhouse got clear title to the property, even though he still owed $132,000 on it, raises new legal and financial questions about a property-records database created by mortgage bankers.

The award of a title free of liens means that whoever owns the promissory note on the Draper property — likely a group of faraway investors — no longer has the right to foreclose to collect on a delinquent loan. Indeed, the townhouse owner has sold the property and kept the money. Those who own the promissory note probably don’t even know what occurred.

Last year, the owner of the Draper property contacted attorney Walter T. Keane to help him deal with lenders, though Keane won’t say what the problem was and the owner declined an interview request.

The lawsuit over the title to the townhouse named Garbett Mortgage and Citibank FSB as the holders of promissory notes as recorded on trust deeds filed with the recorder’s office. Integrated Title Services was listed as trustee of the Garbett Mortgage trust deed, while First American Title was the trustee of the CitiBank trust deed.

But there also was another entity listed on the trust deeds called the Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). The Mortgage Bankers Association, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group that represents major mortgage lenders, created MERS in the mid-1990s.

Under the state’s quiet title laws, Keane said he did not have to name MERS or serve it legal papers in the lawsuit because it was not the legal owner of title to the property. Those were title companies. In addition, attorneys contend, MERS cannot be the “beneficiary” or holder of the promissory note because it readily has admitted it has no financial interest in any notes or mortgages.

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