Friday, August 6, 2010

This is my Facebook email address!

Carol Lawson

Carol A. Lawson, Esq.  ----- This is my Facebook email address!

Fannie Mae’s Announcing Miscellaneous Servicing Policy Changes

MERS- Walker Case CA

The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of California has issued a ruling dated May 20, 2010 in the matter of In Re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656-E-11 which found that MERS could not, as a matter of law, have transferred the note to Citibank from the original lender, Bayrock Mortgage Corp. The Court’s opinion is headlined stating that MERS and Citibank are not the real parties in interest.

The court found that MERS acted “only as a nominee” for Bayrock under the Deed of Trust and there was no evidence that the note was transferred. The opinion also provides that “several courts have acknowledged that MERS is not the owner of the underlying note and therefore could not transfer the note, the beneficial interest in the deed of trust, or foreclose on the property secured by the deed”, citing the well-known cases of In Re Vargas (California Bankruptcy Court), Landmark v. Kesler (Kansas decision as to lack of authority of MERS), LaSalle Bank v. Lamy (New York), and In Re Foreclosure Cases (the “Boyko” decision from Ohio Federal Court).

Fighting parents' foreclosure, Diamond Bar student wins rounds against Deutsche Bank,0,1105074,full.story

Million Dollar home! Yeah Right! Only in California

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Loan Officers

Residential mortgage loan officers at banks, credit unions, and other federally regulated financial institutions are now required to register their names and fingerprints with a national database.

Residential mortgage loan officers at banks, credit unions, and other federally regulated financial institutions are now required to register their names and fingerprints with a national database.

Six federal agencies – including the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Reserve, FDIC, Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS), Farm Credit Administration (FCA), and National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) – approved new rules Wednesday that say all mortgage originators who are employees of both state and federally regulated lenders must meet the requirements of the Secure and Fair Enforcement for Mortgage Licensing Act (S.A.F.E. Act).

The S.A.F.E. Act was passed two years ago and creates a central database of mortgage originators’ and mortgage brokers’ names and fingerprints in order for regulators to perform background checks and keep tabs on where individuals are operating.

Fiserv Predicts Home Prices to Drop Another 4.9% in Year Ahead

Despite recent increases in a number of the industry's home price measurements, and even an uptick in the company's own index of residential property prices, Fiserv Inc. says the gains will be short-lived. The information technology firm is forecasting home prices to fall by another 4.9 percent over the next 12 months, as unemployment remains high, mortgage rates rise, and markets such as Florida, Arizona, and Nevada add even more distressed properties to their inventories.

Citi to pay $73 million for misleading investors

“The rules of financial disclosure are simple — if you choose to speak, speak in full and not in half-truths,” Robert Khuzami, director of the SEC’s Division of Enforcement, said in a statement.

New Restrictions Placed on Debt Settlement Companies

The Federal Trade Commission yesterday announced new restrictions on companies that purport to help borrowers get rid of crippling amounts of debt, the New York Times reported today. The rules, which will take effect in the fall, prohibit companies from charging a fee before they settle or reduce a customer's credit card or unsecured debt. The rules also require that the companies set up dedicated accounts for debt relief payments by consumers and disclose how long the debt-reduction efforts will take, what they will cost and the potentially negative consequences that could occur.

“Too many of these companies pick the last dollar out of consumers’ pocket and, far from leaving them better off, push them deeper into debt, even bankruptcy,” Jon Leibowitz, chairman of the F.T.C., said in a statement announcing the regulations.

This is so Cool!

Bankruptcy Statistics For Each State Now Available on Interactive Map

July 29, 2010

Certain statistical information about bankruptcy filings in your state, and how your state compares with all others, is newly available on an interactive map.

The map, prepared by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, displays the average “net scheduled debt” for consumer bankruptcy filings in 2009. Net scheduled debt is the difference between someone’s total reported debt and the amount of reported debt that cannot be discharged, or forgiven, in bankruptcy court.

The Administrative Office is required to report such statistics to Congress under a 2005 federal law, the Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005

Banks Get Pitches on Overdraft Protection

Marketing and technology companies are looking to assist financial institutions identify customers who are most likely to incur the hefty fees ahead of new federal overdraft rules taking effect Aug. 15., the Wall Street Journal reported today. Issued by the Federal Reserve, the rules require customers to sign up for a bank's overdraft program before the bank can charge the customer for overdrawing the account. The new rules apply to debit card withdrawals made at automated teller machines and store cash registers. Starting next month, people who overdraw their accounts and haven't opted into a bank overdraft program will see those charges rejected. The rules don't apply to certain electronic transactions, such as automatic bill payments.

Means test calculations figures

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Bankruptcy Stigma

With bankruptcy constantly in the news and so many consumers jobless, the social stigma of declaring bankruptcy probably has lessened.
People who file bankruptcy are ashamed to have to do so, and most avoid it until they have no other choice.  I think it's easier and more acceptable today than it used to be years ago because of how many people have done it and because of the enormous amount of press it has gotten the last few years.

People who filed bankruptcy in 2005 when the economy was booming might very well have overspent opulently, but in 2010 the vast majority of bankruptcies are exactly what PACKERSFANJC described so well -- people victimized by the bad economy, unexpected medical bills etc. "Saving for a rainy day" and "living within your means" and "not buying anything on credit that you can't immediately pay off" all is sound financial advice, but that type responsible living flew out the window for many when the economy crashed, forcing incredible credit spending etc.

The recession, lagging housing market and unemployment rate will all contribute to the rise in personal bankruptcy filings. This year there will be an additional factor contributing to that number.-- the BP/Transocean oil spill has caused unprecedented damage to the waters and beaches of the Gulf Coast region.

Chapter 7 an Option for Many

Chapter 7 is often referred to as "Total Bankruptcy." Under this chapter, most unsecured debt, which includes debt like credits cards and medical or hospital bills, is discharged, meaning that it does not have to be paid back. There are, however, certain debts that cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7, or any other bankruptcy, including child support and other court ordered obligations, and most student loans, among others.

Many people fear that they will lose their home or vehicle after filing for bankruptcy. But, if you stay current on your mortgage and car payments, it is possible to keep this property. In fact, eliminating other unsecured debt can be one of the best ways to help you stay current on your mortgage.

How Chapter 13 Works

While Chapter 7 might be the best approach for someone who has lost a job and has no regular source of income, the truth is that not everyone will qualify. For those that don't, particularly those with higher incomes, significant assets they would like to keep, or those that have some moral objection to discharging debt, Chapter 13 may be the best approach.

Under this chapter, you keep your property and agree to pay back your creditors over a three to five year period. The program is supervised by the court and typically debtors end up paying creditors a portion of what is owed. After the conclusion of the payment plan, any remaining unsecured debt is discharged.

Benefits of Working With an Attorney

Fears and misconceptions of bankruptcy keep some people from filing and push them toward less effective means of wiping out their debts. These alternatives can often add to their problems instead of solving them. Debt relief or debt consolidation companies can charge substantial up-front fees; using money that should be used to pay off your creditors. In the end, many people find that these alternatives are more costly and do little to address their debt issues and the underlying causes of the problem.

Also, in both Chapter 7 and Chapter 13, people filing receive the protection of an automatic stay, which is not available when pursuing alternatives to bankruptcy. This stops all collection activity, including current lawsuits, repossessions or foreclosures, and provides debtors with time to get their finances in order.

Whatever path you decide and whatever decision you make, bankruptcy can be a straightforward yet complex process. Working with an experienced attorney is the best way to determine which approach is best for you.


The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has banned eight marketers from selling loan modification or foreclosure relief services. The bans result from settlements the marketers entered into with the FTC.

According to the FTC's allegations, the marketers charged homeowners up-front fees and falsely claimed they could get their mortgage loans modified or prevent foreclosure on their homes. The settlements in three separate actions are part of the FTC’s ongoing efforts against loan modification scams.

Companies named as defendants in the settlement include Federal Loan Modification Law Center, Loss Mitigation Services and Hope Now Modifications. A complete breakdown of the settlement actions can be found on the FTC website

Hundreds Of Lenders Named In Mortgagee Review Board Actions

The Federal Housing Administration's (FHA) Mortgagee Review Board (MRB) has published a notice in the Federal Register to announce dozens of administrative actions against FHA-approved lenders who failed to meet its requirements. This year alone, the MRB took nearly 1,500 administrative sanctions against lenders, including reprimands, probations, suspensions, withdrawals of approval, and civil money penalties.

HUD Counseling

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is making $79 million available for a range of housing counseling programs to help families find and preserve housing. The available funding is an increase of $21 million, or 27%, over last year.

The grants will be awarded competitively to approximately 550 applicants, including HUD-approved counseling agencies and state housing finance agencies. The counseling services can relate to a variety of topics, including foreclosure avoidance, home buying and helping borrowers understand how to qualify for reverse mortgages.

HUD's Housing Counseling Grant program will provide approximately $55 million this year for "comprehensive counseling," $9.5 million for reverse mortgage counseling and $14.5 million for supplemental funding for mortgage modification and mortgage scam assistance. There will also be a heightened focus on providing services in languages other than English, HUD says.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Inlanta Mortgage Receives Kentucky License

Waukesha, Wis.-based Inlanta Mortgage has recently obtained its license in Kentucky. The mortgage bank is also licensed in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

National Vacancy Rates

The homeownership rate was 66.9% in the second quarter, according to new data from the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau. The second-quarter rate was 0.5 percentage points lower than the rate recorded in the second quarter of 2009 and 0.2 percentage points lower than the rate from last quarter.

National vacancy rates remained steady, for the most part. National vacancy rates in the second quarter were 10.6% for rental housing and 2.5% for homeowner housing, according to the Census Bureau data. The rental vacancy rate was approximately the same as rates recorded in the second quarter of 2009 and last quarter. The homeowner vacancy rate was approximately the same as the second-quarter 2009 rate and 0.1 percentage point lower than the rate of 2.6% last quarter.

Approximately 85.6% of the housing units in the U.S. in the second quarter were occupied, and 14.4% were vacant. Owner-occupied housing units made up 57.3% of total housing units, while renter-occupied units made up 28.3% of the inventory.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Commerce

FTC Bans Deceptive Marketers from Selling Mortgage Relief Services

As part of an ongoing effort against scams that target financially distressed consumers, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has banned several marketers from selling mortgage modification or foreclosure relief services

Why a Person Initiates a Bankruptcy Filing

There are a number of common-knowledge reasons that people initiate bankruptcy filings, the biggest one being that they feel they can no longer manage debt owed and need a bankruptcy court to either eliminate the responsibility as with a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, or help them create a repayment plan that will get them back on track as with Chapter 13.

However, studies have shown that there are other reasons that a person could initiate a bankruptcy filing. According to a study conducted by Harvard University, the following are the top five reasons that people file for bankruptcy:

1. Medical expenses
2. Job loss
3. Poor/excess of credit
4. Divorce/separation
5. Unexpected expenses

In addition to these reason, factors like education and socioeconomic status could also play a role, according to a study conducted in 2008 by Jay Zagorsky, a research scientist at Ohio State University's Center for Human Resource Research.

In his study, he found that those who file for bankruptcy are more likely to be divorced, female, less educated, have lower income, live in urban areas and have bigger families. This is compared to those who have never filed.

Why is Bankruptcy Occurring More Now?

There's no doubt that many issues have hit homes in the past couple of years. After the Great Recession began, companies quickly let millions of employees go, resulting in what some believe to be over 7 million jobs gone forever. That coupled with a recent drop in credit scores, record foreclosures and other issues that families have faced have resulted in bankruptcy being the only option for many.

As noted by bankruptcy lawyer John T Orcutt's blog, bankruptcies will likely continue to rise for some time as long as we still suffer the residuals of the recession. The unemployment rate is still high, resting at 9.3 percent and companies are still not hiring. Many individuals who have had to stop paying their bills to put food on the table and have seen their credit suffer as a result are likely to choose bankruptcy as a way to wipe their slate clean.

Is Bankruptcy Really That Bad?

There is undoubtedly a negative stigma attached to a bankruptcy filing. Not only does it ruin your credit, but it also supposedly has a negative effect on your ability to acquire a job or buy a car for many years.

However, according to the study conducted by Zagorsky, bankruptcy filers in many instances don't have as much bad after bankruptcy luck as many would think. For instance, the study found that 90 percent of bankruptcy filers have a car less than a year after filing, compared to 89 percent of those who never filed. Also, 74 percent of filers have full-time jobs within one and five years, compared with 73 percent of non-filers.

This, of course, doesn't mean that taking this route is always a good choice. For some, bankruptcy credit (your credit after bankruptcy) plummets and only slightly recovers slowly after many years, making it difficult to take out home loans and make other major purchases without being saddled with extremely high interest rates. What's worse is that a bankruptcy doesn't fall off of your credit reports for up to 10 years.  However, you can totally rebuild your credit and get a new loan in about 2 years if you work on it.

Call Carol A. Lawson @ 727-410-2705  to schedule your free bankruptcy consultation.  New filers only.

9 Ways To Manage People Who Bother You

1. You can only change yourself

The best way to address the situation is to change how you perceive it and how you react to it.

2. Draw your boundaries

Be clear on what you will tolerate and what you will not tolerate -- then stick with it.

3. Be upfront about where you stand

People aren't mind readers, and sometimes they may not be aware that they are infringing on your space or taking up a lot of your time.

4. Be firm when needed

If the person does not stick within the boundaries, then enforce them.

5. Ignore them

If you just ignore them, they don't have a choice but to seek out someone else.

6. Don't take it personally

Most of the times, these people behave the same way around others too.

7. Observe how others handle them

The next time you are with this person, get someone else into the conversation too. Observe how the other party handles it.

8. Show kindness

Often times, they act the way they do because they are looking for an empathetic ear.

9. Help them

Beneath the facade is really a cry for help.

Don't eat Sugar and Exercise

Did you know that what you eat directly after exercising – typically within two hours – can have a significant impact on the health benefits you reap from your exercise?

Consuming sugar within this post-exercise window, will negatively affect both your insulin sensitivity and your human growth hormone (HGH) production.

A recent study in the Journal of Applied Physiology found that eating a low-carbohydrate meal after aerobic exercise enhances your insulin sensitivity. This is highly beneficial, since impaired insulin sensitivity, or insulin resistance, is the underlying cause of type 2 diabetes and a significant risk factor for other chronic diseases, such as heart disease.

In addition, as HGH Magazine explains, consuming fructose, including that from fruit juices, within this two-hour window will decimate your natural HGH production:

Fitness expert Phil Campbell, author of Ready, Set, Go! further explains how you can maximize your HGH production by limiting sugar intake for two hours post exercise, in this article on

It would be best to AVOID all sugar and fruit juice for two hours after your workout, otherwise you will obliterate the growth hormone response and ruin the major benefit of the workout, which is to increase your growth hormone level. Remember that after age 35, your growth hormone levels radically decrease.

The reason why restricting these carbs after exercise works is that they will prevent the production of the hormone somatostatin. One of the primary purposes of this hormone is to inhibit the production of human growth hormone.

Virtually all exercises, certainly nearly all cardio or standard aerobics, fail miserably when it comes to increasing growth hormone. So if you decide to use the only type of exercise that will increase growth hormone, then it would be a shame to make a foolish food choice that would wipe out most of the benefit from doing these amazing types of exercise.

When you break your exercise session into intervals like this -- short segments that alternate high intensity with a rest period in-between – you can dramatically improve your cardiovascular fitness and fat-burning capabilities in a fraction of the time.

This makes logical sense when you consider that, historically, long-duration exercise isn't "natural." Our ancient ancestors never ran for mile after mile without rest or recovery. Their exercise was primarily hunting -- short bursts of exertion, followed by periods of rest.

By exercising in short bursts, followed by periods of recovery, you recreate exactly what your body needs for optimum health, and that includes both the production of growth hormones and the burning of excess body fat.

Please understand that the sugar and juice restriction are really intended for nearly everyone reading this whose primary purpose is to increase human growth hormone naturally, through exercise, to improve their health.

There is a very small group of elite and professional athletes who are actively competing, where increasing growth hormone is not their primary goal. For these athletes, consuming some carbs, preferably dextrose-based, in the recovery period is probably a good idea to improve their recovery time, as they are competing and not so concerned about long-term growth hormone levels.

It is also important to understand that the two hour post workout sugar restriction is for Peak 8 exercises NOT for strength training or, if you chose to, aerobic exercises. Since neither of these exercises increases growth hormone, there is not an issue with the sugar restriction within the bounds of replacing needs generated from the exercise

United States: Eleventh Circuit Decision Threatens To Eliminate Federal Jurisdiction Over Most Consumer And Employment Class Actions, Undermining The Goals Of The Class Action Fairness Act

The US Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit has just issued a decision that, if it is allowed to stand, will preclude federal jurisdiction over virtually all class-action lawsuits filed in, or removed to, federal courts within that circuit. In Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, Inc., the Eleventh Circuit held sua sponte that the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) does not allow for jurisdiction over class actions unless the amount in controversy for at least one plaintiff (or class member) exceeds $75,000. So long as Cappucitti remains in force, federal courts in the Eleventh Circuit will lack jurisdiction over virtually all consumer and employment class actions, as individual plaintiffs in those actions typically have modest claims. That result would undercut the core purpose of CAFA—to ensure a federal forum for significant class actions—and could transform state courts in the Eleventh Circuit into magnet jurisdictions for class actions that (under Cappuccitti) cannot be removed.

Facebook and Twitter: Losing Jobs, One Idiot at a Time

What's on your mind?" text box that is soon to contain a profanity-laced diatribe about how all of your coworkers are inept cretins and your boss is an autocratic, egotistical, contemptuous turd.

You're an idiot. Unless you don't need your job and couldn't care less if you got axed. If not, then you are an idiot.

I never quite understood it myself - you're making a salary, you're autonomous and independent, so why complain about the job? Without the job, you'd most likely be ranting on Facebook about how hot it is at your parents'.

How Facebook Can Make or Break Your Case

Recently, in EEOC v. Simply Storage Management, a federal court permitted an employer to obtain discovery of an employee's social networking activity that, through privacy settings, the employee had made "private" and not available to the general public.

That makes sense, right? I have yet to see a tweet or a Facebook status update appear on a privilege log.

So, as part of discovery, an employer should consider requesting:

All online profiles, postings, messages (including, without limitation, tweets, replies, retweets, direct messages, status updates, wall comments, groups joined, activity streams, and blog entries), photographs, videos, and online communications that:

1. refer or relate to the allegations set forth in the complaint;

2. refer or relate to any facts or defenses raised in the answer;

3. reveal, refer or relate to any emotion, feeling, or mental state; or

4. reveal, refer, or relate to events that could reasonably be expected to produce a significant emotion, feeling, or mental state.


ISP subpoena addresses

Sample Written Consent


Today, more than 11 million homeowners - or more than one in four of those with a mortgage - are under water, owing more than their home is worth. At the end of March, there were some 2.4 million mortgages in foreclosure, and almost 3.5 million more were at least 60 days past due. Modifications of at-risk mortgages continue to gain momentum. About 640,000 permanent modifications were put in place under the Home Affordable Modification Program and other programs in the first four months of this year. That figure is roughly comparable to the number of mortgages that entered foreclosure over the same period.


MERS – Mortgage Electronic Registration Inc. – holds approximately 60 million American mortgages and is a Delaware corporation whose sole shareholder is Mers Corp. MersCorp and its specified members have agreed to include the MERS corporate name on any mortgage that was executed in conjunction with any mortgage loan made by any member of MersCorp.

Thus in place of the original lender being named as the mortgagee on the mortgage that is supposed to secure their loan, MERS is named as the “nominee” for the lender who actually loaned the money to the borrower. In other words MERS is really nothing more than a name that is used on the mortgage instrument in place of the actual lender. MERS’ primary function, therefore, is to act as a document custodian.

MERS v. Nebraska Dept of Banking and Finance – State Appellate, MERS demands to be recognized as having no actionable interest in title. 2005, Cite as 270 Neb 529

Merscorp, Inc., et al., Respondents, v Edward P. Romaine, & c., et al., Appellants, et al., Defendant the fact that the Mortgage and Deed of Trust are separated is recognized (concurring opinion). While affirming MERS could enter in the records as “nominee”, the court recognized many inherent problems. Rather than resolve them, they sloughed them off to the legislature. 2006

The Boyko Decision -Federal District Judge Christopher Boyko of the Eastern Division of the Northern District of Ohio Federal Court overturns 14 foreclosure actions with a well reasoned opinion outlining the failure of the foreclosing party to prove standing. This decision started the movement of challenging the standing of the foreclosing party. Oct 2007

Landmark National Bank v Kesler – KS State Supreme Court – MERS has no standing to foreclose and is, in fact, a straw man. Oct 2009.

The importance of the findings of the Supreme Court of Kansas cannot be overemphasized. It is generally the law in all states that if the law of one state has not specifically addressed a specific legal issue that the court may look to the law of states which have. The Kansas Court acknowledged that the case was one of “first impression in Kansas”, which is why the Kansas Court looked to legal decisions from California, Idaho, New York, Missouri, and other states for guidance and to support its decision. As we have previously reported, the Ohio Courts have looked to the legal decisions of New York to resolve issues in foreclosure defense, most notably issues of standing to institute a foreclosure.

It is practically certain that this decision will be the subject of review by various courts. MERS has already threatened a “second appeal” (by requesting “reconsideration” by the Supreme Court of Kansas of its decision by the entire panel of Judges in that Court). However, for now, the decision stands, which decision is of monumental importance for borrowers. It thus appears that the tide is finally starting to turn, and that the courts are beginning to recognize the extent of the wrongful practices and fraud perpetrated by “lenders” and MERS upon borrowers, which conduct was engaged in for the sole purpose of greed and profit for the “lenders” and their ilk at the expense of borrowers.

MERS, Inc., Appellant v Southwest Homes of Arkansas, Appellee The second State Supreme Court ruling – AR 2009

BAC v US Bank – FL Appellate court upholds the concept of determining the standing of the foreclosing party before allowing summary judgement. All cases in FL must now go through this process. If you want to have fun, read the plaintiff’s brief. 2007

Wells Fargo NAS v Farmer Motion to vacate in Supreme Court, Kings County, NY 2009

In Re: Joshua & Stephanie Mitchell – US Federal Bankruptcy Court, NV 2009

In Re: Wilhelm et al., Case No. 08-20577-TLM (opinion of Hon. Terry L. Myers, Chief U.S. Bankruptcy Judge, July 9, 2009) – Chief US Bankruptcy Judge, ID – MERS, by its construction, separates the Deed from the Mortgage

MERS v Johnston – Vermont Superior Court Decision

Wells Fargo v Jordon – OH Appellate Court

Weingartner et al v Chase Home Finance et al – US District Court (Nev): Two pro se plaintiffs sue for relief re: MERS assignments. Very technical decision but two things are apparent. First, the court has little patience for pro se plaintiffs who throw everything out there wasting the court’s time and second, even though the court threw out most of what the plaintiffs were arguing for, they did side with the plaintiff. Provides a good insight to the court’s reasoning vis a vis MERS assignments. Also makes clear you shouldn’t try this from home. Please seek legal counsel.

Schneider et al v Deutsche Bank et al (FL): Class action suit (the filing) seeking to recover actual and statutory damages for violations of the foreclosure process. Provides an excellent description of the securitization process and the problems with assignments. Any person named as a defendant in a suit by Deutsche Bank should contact the firms involved for inclusion in this suit.

JP Morgan Chase v New Millenial et. al. – FL Appellate which clearly demonstrates the chaos which can ensue when there is a failure to register changes of ownership at the county recorder’s office. Everyone operates in good faith, then out of nowhere, someone shows up waving a piece of paper. The MERS system, while not explicitly named, is clearly the culprit of the chaos. 2009

In Re: Walker, Case No. 10-21656-E-11 – Eastern District of CA Bankruptcy court rules MERS has NO actionable interest in title. “Any attempt to transfer the beneficial interest of a trust deed without ownership of the underlying note is void under California law.” “MERS could not, as a matter of law, have transferred the note to Citibank from the original lender, Bayrock Mortgage Corp.” The Court’s opinion is headlined stating that MERS and Citibank are not the real parties in interest.

In re Vargas, 396 B.R. at 517-19. Judge Bufford made a finding that the witness called to testify as to debt and default was incompetent. All the witness could testify was that he had looked at the MERS computerized records. The witness was unable to satisfy the requirements of the Federal Rules of Evidence, particularly Rule 803, as applied to computerized records in the Ninth Circuit. See id. at 517-20. The low level employee could really only testify that the MERS screen shot he reviewed reflected a default. That really is not much in the way of evidence, and not nearly enough to get around the hearsay rule.

In Re: Joshua and Stephanie Mitchell, Case No. BK-S-07-16226-LBR [U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Nevada, Memorandum Opinion of August 19, 2008]. Federal Court in Nevada attacked MERS’ purported “authority”, finding that there was no evidence that MERS was the agent of the note’s holder

Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Girdvainis, Sumter County, South Carolina Court of Common Pleas Case No. 2005-CP-43-0278 (Order dated January 19, 2006, citing to the representations of MERS and court findings in Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. v. Nebraska Dept. of Banking and Finance, 270 Neb. 529, 704 NW 2d. 784). As such, ALL MERS assignments are suspect at best, and may in fact be fraudulent. The Court of Common Pleas of Sumter County, South Carolina also found that MERS’ rights were not as they were represented to be; that MERS had no rights to collect on any debt because it did not extend any credit; none of the borrowers owe MERS any money; that MERS does not own the promissory notes secured by the mortgages; and that MERS does not acquire any loan or extension of credit secured by a lien on real property.

Fannie Mae's Strategic Default Policy

The GSE says borrowers who intentionally default when they had the capacity to pay or those who do not complete a workout alternative in good faith will be ineligible for a new Fannie Mae-backed mortgage for a period of seven years from the date of foreclosure.

Fannie Mae says the policy change is designed to encourage borrowers to work with their servicers and pursue alternatives to foreclosure. While a bold attempt at preventing unnecessary foreclosures, the analysts at Moody’s Investors Service argue that the GSE may encounter snags ahead since figuring out who to penalize for strategically walking away will be a significant challenge and implementing the policy could be difficult.

Previously, the GSE barred homeowners who’d been foreclosed on from obtaining a new mortgage for five years. However, Fannie Mae’s new policy extends the foreclosure-waiting period to seven years unless the borrower can prove that they faced extenuating circumstances when they defaulted on the loan.

For borrowers who can prove hardship or document that they attempted to contact their servicer to obtain a loan workout, the waiting period could be reduced to as little as three years. For borrowers who attempt to “gracefully exit” their mortgage obligation by means of a short sale or a deed in lieu may only have to wait two years to obtain a new Fannie Mae mortgage.

Fannie Mae also said it will pursue deficiency judgments against strategic defaulters more aggressively in cases where it has the legal authority to do so. Moody’s says this tactic is likely to be a more effective tool for discouraging walk-aways than the extended waiting period for a new mortgage.

fannie mae retained counsel list

The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo

I saw the movie with english sub titles on Cable it was really good!

Foreclosure Sales in Pinellas

There were 1,146 foreclosure auctions in Pinellas County July 1, 2010 – August 1, 2010

Bankruptcy & Foreclosure Defense: The Effect on Lawyers and Realtors.

The Clearwater Bar Seminar on 7/30/10 had a great turn out!  We had 72  attorneys and realtors.    I  want to thank all of my speakers: Matt Weidner,  Jon Kieffer and Jack Townsend,  Ted Barrett ,  and  Steven M. Fishman for doing a great job!!!

Giesbrecht v. Fitzgerald (In re Giesbrecht),

Giesbrecht v. Fitzgerald (In re Giesbrecht), 2010 WL 1956618 (9th Cir. BAP, April 28, 2010) (Hollowell): Nothing prohibits a Chapter 13 plan from providing for direct payments to a creditor by a debtor, such is within the sound discretion of the bankruptcy court.

You could call him the foreclosure king of Florida.

As lawyer for several major banks, David J. Stern handles 20 percent of all foreclosure cases in the nation's fourth most populous state. It is from Stern's law firm that well over 100,000 Floridians, including many in the Tampa Bay area, have received the dreaded notice to pay up or face losing their homes.

The foreclosure business has been good to Stern, who lives in a $15 million Fort Lauderdale mansion and reaped $58.5 million by selling his back-office operations to a new public company in which he is a major shareholder.

By 1999, Stern's firm represented banks in foreclosure actions against more than 10,000 homeowners, according to records in a class action lawsuit filed in federal court in Tallahassee. The suit alleged that the firm overcharged homeowners for title searches, postage and other expenses, then submitted "false and fraudulent" invoices to support the charges. The case was closed in 2000 with Stern agreeing to pay a total of $2.1 million to homeowners.

Stern's law firm ballooned along with the foreclosure rate. From its headquarters in the Fort Lauderdale suburb of Plantation, it now handles nearly 100,000 foreclosure cases at any one time and has a client list that includes Bank of America, Wells Fargo and Citigroup's%20'Foreclosure%20King'

Bankruptcy is the Way to Go!

Many homeowners have been struggling with their home loan payment over the past months and as a result have faced foreclosure. While there are home loan modification programs, as well as other governmental mortgage assistance options, many homeowners have reportedly been turning to bankruptcy to save their home from foreclosure. While many people feel that it is odd or even dangerous to use bankruptcy as a way to avoid losing a house, there are arguments that it is a beneficial means of keeping one’s home.

One of the main arguments in favor of using bankruptcy as a way to avoid foreclosure is that it simply stops the foreclosure process and allows the homeowner to get their finances in order. While there are certain types of bankruptcy that may not be beneficial for particular homeowners, some have used bankruptcy as a way to stop the foreclosure proceedings, which give them time to catch up on payments or get rid of unsecured debt, which would leave them only owing money on their mortgage.

Also, some have argued that by filing bankruptcy, specifically Chapter 13, homeowners will have additional time to get their financial life in order and will be able to live within an income-based budget when making payments on the various debt. Many homeowners have simply been seeking a way to stretch their income further and pay off their debts, so this is the way that many have used to do just that. Homeowners who are committed to paying off their debts but may not have an income that affords them the ability to do so, but some have benefited from income-based repayment plans in the past.

However, despite these reports of homeowners using bankruptcy as a way of avoiding foreclosure, homeowners are highly cautioned whenever they consider this course of action. Bankruptcy is obviously not in every homeowner’s best interest nor will it always save a homeowner from losing their house. Also, obviously, bankruptcy is a huge stain on one’s credit history and can significantly lower an individual’s credit score. Bankruptcy is something that will stay with a homeowner for years down the road, usually for around 10 years, so this type of action may save someone’s home but might make other areas of their financial life incredibly difficult.

Homeowners who are struggling to make their mortgage payment and may be facing foreclosure need to act early. Many advisers often tell homeowners to talk with their lenders before their first payment is missed, but even if homeowners have waited too long, there are assistance programs available to help. Home loan modifications are just one of the many mortgage aid plans that lenders are using to help homeowners stay in their home. So, before turning to bankruptcy, many financial advisers are counseling homeowners to seek out alternative routes to keeping their home so that their financial life will not take the damage that comes with bankruptcy.


Call Carol Lawson @ 727-410-2705  to schedule your  free appointment.

Client issues

One thing that can really trouble a lawyer prepping for the courtroom is having an unsympathetic client. It’s hard to make jurors see your client as an injured party, or innocent victim of a spurious charge, if they also see your client as, oh, a vapid, parasitic scumbag. Let’s say.,0,978790,full.story?coll=la-home-headlines

Check this out

Are Circuit Courts Complicit?

NPV Test

The Net Present Value test is a complex computer model used by loan servicers to determine whether a homeowner qualifies for the federal loan modification program. The test compares two scenarios – modification and foreclosure – and determines which would be more profitable for the lender. If it’s foreclosure, the lender has no obligation to modify the loan. But the model is a black box. What goes in isn’t entirely clear, and what comes out isn’t always reliable.

Goldman Sachs and Modifications

Consider the case of the Baileys. Litton, a subsidiary of Goldman Sachs, services their loan, and Litton’s contract with investors has no clear language banning modifications. In fact, documents show that over 115 other mortgages [1] from the same investment pool have already been modified. representative of investors in the Baileys’ mortgage says only the servicer can decide when to modify loans. While he couldn’t comment on an individual case, Bank of New York Mellon spokesman Kevin Heine says it’s “misinformation” to say that investors make these decisions. nobody knows the exact extent to which servicers are passing blame on to investors. Some housing counselors estimate that 10 percent of the denials they see are attributed to investors; others say they see as many as 40 percent. Either way, tens of thousands of homeowners may be affected, their attempts to modify their mortgage wrongly denied.

The Treasury Department prior refusual to release the exact formula for the NPV model, bringing criticism from homeowner advocates and industry experts.

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act)

Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act) there were a few little acorns tucked away in the 848 pages of the act. One of them extended the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (PTFA) – instead of it vanishing at the end of 2012, it now is alive until the end of 2014. See Section 1484 of H.R. 4173 at page 829. This extension is a big deal for tenants of foreclosed properties. Thus far the industry and its vendors have ignored the Act (it became effective May 2009) because they would much rather evict everyone in the home and sell it vacant.

FHA has not considered the PTFA to be worthy of compliance when it comes to the implementation of the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP). This program was established to stabilize communities that have suffered from foreclosures and abandonment. NSP authorizes recipients (states, nonprofits and others) to acquire foreclosed properties and then resell them to qualified buyers. Recipients target certain areas that have concentrations of foreclosures in order to stabilize the rest of the neighborhood using NSP funding. NSP funds may only be used to purchase foreclosed properties for which PTAF was complied with during the foreclosure. This is important, as reports have shown that PTAF is widely ignored by lenders.

Fannie claims to have addressed the NSP certification issue for some recipients (not Texas as mentioned in the original post below) by hedging the language of the certification:

Fannie Mae has established a due diligence process that attempts to identify any bona fide tenant (“Bona Fide Tenant”), as that term is defined under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (“the Act”), that occupies a property acquired by Fannie Mae through foreclosure on or after the date of the Act. Upon information and belief, any Bona Fide Tenant protected by the Act, occupying the Property after the date of the Act, received all notices required pursuant to the Act. Upon information and belief, Seller states that the Property was vacant at the time Buyer and Seller entered into negotiations for purchase of the property Upon information and belief, Fannie Mae became initial successor in interest to the Property after a foreclosure sale on __________________ (foreclosure sale date). Upon information and belief, Seller states that the Property was vacant as of ________ (Initial OSR Date).

1.6 Million to File Bankruptcy

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.6 million Americans could file for bankruptcy by the end of 2010.

New Directions for Credit Cardholders- Tips

1. If your credit card company has lowered your credit limit, it may cause your credit score to decline. This is because your score is based in part on the percentage of your credit limit that you are using and how much you owe.

2. Under the new law, card issuers now must generally tell customers about certain changes in account terms — in areas such as interest rate and fee increases — 45 days in advance, up from 15 days in the past. In that same notice, they must inform consumers of their right to cancel the card before certain account changes take effect. These notices may come with your credit card bill or through a separate communication.

3. “no-interest” offers-you must pay off the entire purchase by the time the promotional period ends to take advantage of the zero-rate offer. If you don’t, the lender will charge you interest from the date you bought the item. You would then have to pay interest — at the lender’s standard rate — from the date of purchase.

4. Rewards_ For more information about using rewards programs wisely, see our article “Points, Cash Back and Other ‘Rewards’ from Your Bank: How to Cash In on the Right Deal,” in the Summer 2009 issue of FDIC Consumer News at

5. Parents of young adults have a new opportunity to teach responsible management of credit cards. The new law includes protections for young consumers, including a requirement that anyone under 21 who wants to obtain a credit card must have a qualified co-signer on the account or must prove he or she alone can repay any debt. This is intended to protect young people from getting overwhelmed by credit card debt. But it also offers an opportunity for parents to teach their kids about responsible use of credit cards.

6. Take additional precautions against interest rate increases. “Although the law puts new limits on interest rate increases, you need to remain vigilant,” Manley added. For example, while card companies cannot increase the interest rate on existing balances except in certain circumstances, they may raise rates on extensions of credit for new purchases as long as proper notice is provided.

“If you receive a notice that your interest rate is increasing,” Manley said, “determine whether you have another way to make future purchases, such as by waiting until you have saved enough money for the purchase or by using a card with a lower interest rate.”

Rate increases also may come in another form. For example, some fixed-rate cards may be converted to variable-rate cards after a notice has been sent to cardholders. This would result in variable rates being applied to new balances.

Also note that a credit card company can increase the rate on an existing balance if the consumer fails to send the minimum payment within 60 days of the due date. So, it’s very important to avoid being more than 60 days late on a credit card. If you miss a due date, you can avoid a “penalty” interest rate on that existing balance by getting your payment in within 60 days. And if you’re more than 60 days late and that does trigger a rate increase, get current on your credit card payments as soon as possible and then start consistently paying on time. Card issuers are required to reduce the penalty rate if they receive prompt payments for six months.

In general, what else can you do to get the best rates? Keep in mind that a credit score is built up over long periods, not just over one or two years, so make all your loan payments on time. Even if you have past blemishes, you can improve your credit score over time by managing your credit well. Be aware that if you can only afford to pay the minimum amount due, you probably won’t get the best rates. But if you can pay more than the minimum each month — as much more as possible — that will work in your favor.

Also, carefully read the terms of a new credit card before using it. If the card has a high interest rate or fees, shop around for a better offer.

According to the American Bankruptcy Institute, more than 1.6 million Americans could file for bankruptcy by the end of 2010.

E Discovery

Magistrate Judge Nan Nolan of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois "I know that some people have snickered about this idea that you can get lawyers to make nice and cooperate on discovery. But I believe it is possible." What do lawyers need from the bench to navigate e-discovery disputes? The pilot project explicitly states that "an attorney’s zealous representation of a client is NOT compromised by conducting discovery in a cooperative manner," creating a foundation for a cooperative process. "The key is that it sets out that noncooperation is sanctionable," says Steven Teppler with Edelson McGuire, who is a member of the committee and had several cases that were part of the project. "How can you do discovery if the other side won’t? But if it looks like it will be a fair process, then it makes parties less obstinate."

Florida Home Prices

June's statewide existing-home median price of $143,400 was 2.1 percent higher than May, marking the fourth month in a row that the prices have increased on a month-to-month basis. However, prices were down 3 percent when compared with year-ago levels.

Existing-condo prices posted a more notable decline. According to Florida Realtors, the median price for existing condos across the state came in at $95,000 in June, plunging 16 percent from one year earlier.


The secondary market lobbying group, the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), warns that the government can’t completely pull out of the mortgage market without sending costs skyrocketing for consumers. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-California), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, called the president’s signing of the Dodd-Frank bill a “charade” on true reform, particularly in light of Issa’s recent investigation that revealed former executives at both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac accepted so-called sweetheart loans from subprime mortgage lender Countrywide before it imploded.

“Despite the fact that the federal government was a willing accomplice in this nexus of special interest influence’s effort to shape the mortgage market jeopardizing our fiscal solvency, the President and Democratic Congress have responded to repeated calls to reform Fannie and Freddie with a deafening silence,” Rep. Issa said.


Mortgages were least likely to go into default in San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo counties, following the historic norm. The probability was highest in Madera, Sutter, and Merced counties.

The number of trustees deeds (TDs) recorded, which reflect the number of houses or condo units lost at the end of the foreclosure process, totaled 47,669 during the second quarter, according to DataQuick. That was up 11.2 percent from the prior quarter, and up 4.4 percent from the same period last year.

The company reported that on average, homes foreclosed on last quarter took 9.1 months to wind their way through the formal foreclosure process, beginning with an NOD. That’s up from 7.5 months the prior quarter and 6.4 months a year ago. The increase could reflect, among other things, lender backlogs and extra time needed to pursue possible loan modifications and short sales.

Pinellas Foreclosures over stated

It has been widely reported that there are 33,000 active foreclosure cases pending in Pinellas County, Florida this is incorrect. The data is also including default letters and commercial foreclosures.   According to  Mediation Managers only 936 cases were filed in residential foreclosure in July 2010.

Look Out for Obnoxious Lawyers

Look Out for Obnoxious Lawyers

Matthews v. Eldridge

due process case for balancing

Taylor Appellate Argument

Taylor Appellate Argument- watch the video


Have you tried the HAMP escalation line? call 8889954673 and ask for the escalation team, which turns out to be a group of HUD counselors in Penn under contract with Fannie to serve as an interface to
"encourage" the servicers to do what they agreed to do. They will want your client with you, at least in the beginning, to approve you talking to them. Then they have phone numbers for better contacts at
the servicer. I tried it last week for a BOA account. Not a miracle yet, but some progress was made and they were at least in the US and were willing to give me their name and agree to regular phone calls to
resolve. It was a mod request, not a short sale, but the basic procedure should still work.

National Call For Loan Documents Signed By Multiple Corporate Hat-Wearing Vice PresidentsFrom Florida Attorney

National Call For Loan Documents Signed By Multiple Corporate Hat-Wearing Vice PresidentsFrom Florida Attorney Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq.(1) in the March 12, 2010 entry on Fraud Digest:

MORTGAGE DOCUMENTSAction Date: March 12, 2010Location: WEST Palm Beach, FL


Researchers at Fraud Digest are comparing the job titles on Mortgage Assignments and Affidavits of the individuals listed below. If you have any Mortgage Assignment or Affidavit in Support of Summary Judgment in a Foreclosure action signed by any of the following individuals, please scan the document(s) and send it as a pdf. attachment to This request is for research regarding mortgage-related documents. The individuals named below are not accused of wrong-doing or fraudulent activity: Christina Allen; Scott Anderson; Brent Bagley; China Brown; Eric Friedman; Linda Green; Ely Harless; Korell Harp; Laura Hescott; Erica Johnson-Seck; Dennis Kirkpatrick; Topako Love; Jessica Ohde; Shelly Scheffey; Keri Selman; Kathy Smith; Roger Stout; Eric Tate; Tywanna Thomas; Linda Thoresen.For other postings by attorney Szymoniak on suspected muiltiple corporate hat-wearing vice presidents, see:TOO MANY JOBS: A report that lists the names Linda

Green, Tywanna Thomas, Korell Harp and Shelly Scheffey that frequently appear on so-called "Docx-prepared" documents and some of the many job titles used by Green, Thomas, Harp and Scheffey.MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS AS EVIDENCE OF FRAUD: Highlights the apparent manufacturing & use of "backdated" and "retroactive" assignments of mortgage by foreclosing entities to satisfy paperwork requirements in foreclosure actions.AN OFFICER OF TOO MANY BANKS: Addresses some legal issues arising when multiple corporate hat-wearing vice presidents hold themselves out as acting as officers of multiple companies.SIGNATURE COMPARISONS: A collection of copies of the signature section from legal documents that aids in the comparison of signatures from the same small group of suspected multiple corporate hat-wearing vice presidents.Much of the information set forth in the above links are also set forth in greater detail in a class action complaint filed in a Miami Federal

Court in February that alleges document manufacturing practices by lenders, servicers, and others in foreclosure actions (as I understand it, the suit has been withdrawn, subject to refiling in the future).

Got it from here:"linda+green"

Worth a good read

Foreclose your 2nd First for extra Dollars

Rather than foreclose on both loans at the same time, Wachovia chose to foreclose, market and sell the worthless junior lien, purporting it to be the real property, which is what we purchased,” she said.

Check this out

Lawyers suffer from Depression

Four studies conducted by the American Bar Association between 1984 and 2000 find that lawyers suffer from chronic professional dissatisfaction. Approximately one out of every four lawyers is dissatisfied with her job. This dissatisfaction does not exist in a bubble; it harms both lawyers (young lawyers in particular) and society as a whole. Lawyer dissatisfaction leads to depression, substance abuse and other mental health problems that cause individual lawyers to suffer, thereby negatively affecting clients and increasing health and malpractice insurance costs.

According to professors Todd David Peterson and Elizabeth Waters Peterson in a 2009 article, lawyers suffer from the highest rate of depression of all professionals after adjusting for socio-demographic factors and are 3.6 times more likely to suffer from a major depressive disorder than the rest of the employed population. They are also more likely to develop heart disease, alcoholism and drug use than the general population. As Professor Susan Daicoff noted in a 2008 study, approximately 20 percent of the entire profession suffers from clinically significant levels of substance abuse, depression, anxiety or some other form of psychopathology. Moreover, researchers have found that mental illness and distress are responsible for the majority of attorney malpractice and disciplinary proceedings.

It comes as no surprise that the legal profession's high levels of dissatisfaction and mental health-related problems begin in law school. For example, a 2001 study performed by professors Kennon Sheldon and Lawrence Krieger tracked law students at two law schools during a three-year period, monitoring levels of law student distress and dissatisfaction. At the beginning of the study, students were generally happy and healthy. Within six months, however, the law students experienced significant decreases in well-being and life satisfaction, and substantial increases in depression, negative affect and physical symptoms.

Circuit Court of Appeals Cases

Third Circuit, 06/29/2010

In re Goody's Family Clothing Inc.
"Stub rent" is administrative expense here, section 365(d)(3) does not supplant section 503(b).

Sixth Circuit, 07/02/2010
In re Johnson
perfection of lender's security interest in truck did not occur until March 7, 2005, when the security interest was actually noted on the certificate of title.

Eighth Circuit, 06/28/2010
US v. Mitchell
fraud sentence is affirmed where, in a complicated proceeding such as this, the district court must reasonably approximate the value of the assets that the defendant fraudulently sought to preserve.

Tenth Circuit, 06/29/2010
In re Graves
section 542 does not empower a trustee to demand turnover from a debtor in this case, where debtors' interest in a 2006 tax refund was irrevocably applied pre-petition to 2007 taxes

Thanks to

Congress Faces Another Round Of Cramdown Debates


Now that the Capitol Hill debate on financial regulatory reform is over, the next big issue on the congressional agenda might be a return of the bankruptcy cramdown debate.

According to Will White, senior policy adviser to Senate Banking Committee member Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon, cramdowns - which have been vigorously opposed by the mortgage banking industry - are again rumored to be among the foreclosure prevention tools being considered by members of Congress.

White, speaking yesterday at the American Legal & Financial Network's (ALFN) 8th Annual Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., suggested that the Senate may be revisiting the proposal, which would grant bankruptcy judges the authority to modify debt relating to borrowers' principal residences. The most recent attempt to enact cramdowns passed the House of Representatives last year before stalling in the Senate.

"I think to the extent that the foreclosure problem stays as dire as it is today, there may be a revisiting of the bankruptcy legislation," White commented. "That's to deal with the mortgages that are just completely out of proportion to the value of the homes. That's really a regional issue. There are some places where that's an acute issue and others where that's really not a large factor."

While the mortgage banking industry extensively lobbied against cramdown legislation, other entities are supporting the concept. Julia Gordon, senior policy counsel for the Durham, N.C.-based Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), characterized cramdowns as the sole solution to the broad range of issues identified as obstacles to loan modifications problems.

Also speaking at the ALFN event on Monday, Gordon noted that, while the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) seems to have been crafted as a response to the subprime crisis, it does not suitably address the issues of negative equity, high levels of back-end consumer debt, and pooling and servicing agreement restrictions to modification.

"There so far has only been one solution floated out there that actually addresses all of these problems at one time and that's changing the bankruptcy code to permit judicial modifications of first mortgages," Gordon said. "Nobody is suggesting that 6 million people go through bankruptcy - that would not be possible, let alone desirable. But (the cramdown) would be the critical stick, if you will, to the HAMP carrot or other incentives to make sure that these loans get dealt with in an appropriate way and in a reasonable time frame."

Gordon added that the CRL projected that without any major policy change, between 5 million and 6 million owner-occupied homes will go through to foreclosure sale in the next three years.

Number of Modifications are misleading

In commentary published Wednesday, analysts at the research firm Barclays Capital took issue with the Treasury’s calculations of redefault rates, primarily because the numbers appear to be cooked to imply greater success since cancelled modifications – both trial and permanent – are not factored into the equation. This same point was brought up by a number of readers who also perused the data with a discerning eye.

“We find that the data as reported in this table are misleading and fail to capture the full magnitude of redefaults from these modifications,” Barclays said.

GM to Acquire AmeriCredit for $3.5 Billion

General Motors Co. said today that it will acquire auto-finance company AmeriCredit Corp. in a $3.5 billion deal aimed at increasing availability of auto loans and leases.

Jobless Benefits Bill Approved by Senate

The Senate voted (59-39) yesterday to restore emergency jobless benefits to millions of people who have been out of work for more than six months, the Washington Post reported today. House leaders said they will ratify the measure today and send it on to the White House, where President Obama plans to immediately sign it. The bill would authorize states to provide retroactive support to an estimated 2.5 million people whose unemployment checks have been cut off since federal benefits expired June 2. It would also make available up to 99 weeks of income support through the end of November to millions more who have exhausted state benefits, which typically last for 26 weeks.

HUD to Investigate Mortgage Loan Denials

The Department of Housing and Urban Development said yesterday that it would investigate the lending practices of certain mortgage lenders to see if any prospective borrowers had been illegally denied a mortgage because they were pregnant or on short-term disability, the New York Times reported today. "Lenders have every right to ascertain the incomes of families to determine whether they are eligible for a mortgage loan, but they have no right to use a pregnancy or a short-term disability as a cause to deny that family a mortgage they would otherwise qualify for," said Shaun Donovan, the agency's secretary. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two mortgage financing giants, have always required that borrowers have enough income to pay for the loan on closing day and that lenders document that the income is likely to continue for at least three years. Since disability payments typically do not continue for that long, however, some lenders will not count it as qualifying income, several mortgage brokers have said. Some lenders may require new mothers, or others on short-term disability, to reapply for the mortgage once they return to work. If a borrower is on leave at the time of closing, the housing agency said that "lenders must document the borrower's intent to return to work, that the borrower has the right to return to work, and that the borrower qualifies for the loan taking into account any reduction of income due to their leave."

Landmark Financial Reform Legislation

The president penned his name to the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act Wednesday – legislation that’s been crowned the strongest financial and regulatory reform measure since Franklin Roosevelt’s response to the Great Depression

Harvard Law School Professor Elizabeth Warren, a candidate to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created by the bill, had a front-row seat for the ceremony

Henry Paulson
Former Treasury secretary
Grade: Incomplete The systemic-risk council, tougher Fed regulation over top financial institutions and new authority to wind down failing institutions are essential steps forward. Improving derivatives rules is a real positive. But the bill doesn't tackle Fannie and Freddie, and there are too many unknowns as to how the regulations will be applied.
Will it help prevent another crisis? The new tools in this legislation will help mitigate and manage the next financial crisis, which is inevitable, probably within the next six to 10 years. Some argue higher capital and liquidity cushion requirements will slow economic growth. That's short-sighted. Our financial system fostered rapid growth for a period, then in the fall of 2008, the excesses in the system brought us to the brink of collapse. Higher capital and liquidity requirements will give us more stable long-term growth. But even with better regulation, regulators can't have perfect foresight. It is essential that we preserve market discipline that can only come from knowing that no institution is too big to fail. New resolution authority alone won't solve this. Uncertainty about too-big-to-fail will persist until key people, facing a crisis, decide when and how to use these powers.

William Issac
Former chairman of the FDIC
Grade: D It doesn't address the material issues or any of the major issues that led to the crisis. It would not have prevented the last crisis and it won't prevent the next one.
What's the biggest likely change? Because the bill does so little, it is hard for me to see it having a major change.
Will it help prevent another crisis? This bill would not have prevented the last crisis and will not prevent the next one. And the next one could be more serious. They have formally anointed the Treasury as the manager of the next crisis. And if you really liked what they did the last time, you are going to love the next one. They do not have the institutional experience. They do not have the personnel. And they do not have the political independence to handle a crisis properly.

Harvey Pitt
Former SEC chairman
Grade: "F" for failure or, at best, "I" for incomplete It's likely to take a badly broken regulatory system and make it markedly worse. This legislation fixes nothing, accomplishes nothing yet promises everything.
What's the biggest likely change? Legal and consulting fees will skyrocket. This bill is truly the "Lawyers' and Consultants' Full Employment Act of 2010." Most of the attempted reforms are poorly drafted, or contain loopholes so large that a fleet of trucks could get past the supposed barriers. Where the bill accomplishes something it is largely likely to harm competition, force a "brain drain" of talent away from Wall Street, and boost the performance of commercial and investment banks located outside the US.

Will it help prevent another crisis? That's easy—not at all. We couldn't respond to the crisis because of a lack of transparency in newly-created markets, products and services; a lack of economic monitoring and assessment by regulators; and a lack of government nimbleness and tools to deal with new products, services and economic trends without simply prohibiting progress. This bill does not solve any of these problems. Instead, we have the classic legislative monstrosity which Congress and the Administration will claim "solves" the problem, but in reality solves nothing. In brief, Congress and the Administration have "labored mightily, and brought forth a mouse!"

Class Action Against Stern


CINCINNATI, Jul 21, 2010 (GlobeNewswire via COMTEX) -- Notice is hereby given

that a class action lawsuit was filed by the Cincinnati law firms of Strauss &

Troy and Statman Harris & Eyrich on behalf of all persons who purchased the

common stock of DJSP Enterprises, Inc. (“DJSP” or the “Company”) /quotes/comstock/15*!djsp/quotes/nls/djsp (DJSP5.12, -0.21, -3.94%) between March 16, 2010 and May 27, 2010, inclusive (the “Class Period”), and who suffered damages as a result. The action is pending in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

Seize tax incentives now for green improvements to housing and commercial properties.

Tax credits and tax deductions are not the same. A tax credit reduces tax liability. If you owe $100,000 in income taxes, but you have a $10,000 credit, your net tax liability is $90,000. A tax deduction reduces your taxable income but not on a dollar-for-dollar basis. Instead, you apply your tax rate to quantify the cut. So, if you have a $100,000 tax deduction and you are in the 35 percent tax bracket, your tax benefit is $35,000.

Generally, federal tax incentives aim at reducing energy consumption and encouraging renewable energy use. Under current code, businesses that purchase a so-called "energy property" to use in the course of commerce can claim a tax credit for up to 30 percent of the cost. An energy property is equipment that uses solar or wind to generate electricity or to heat, cool or light a building. Taxpayers can claim the credit whether they buy equipment or build it.

The federal code also allows a deduction of up to $1.80 a square foot for improvements to make commercial property more energyefficient. The upgrades must improve interior lighting systems, heating, cooling, ventilation and hot water systems, or the building envelope. If improvements don't meet every code requirement, a partial deduction is allowed of $0.60 a square foot. The dollars can be substantial. A landlord with a 50,000 square-foot commercial building who upgrades lighting, building envelope and HVAC systems could achieve a $90,000 tax deduction (50,000 square feet x $1.80).

The code also offers individual tax credits. Under the "residential energy-efficient property" credit, 30 percent of an expenditure for solar-electric equipment, solar water-heating equipment, fuel-cell equipment, small wind-energy equipment and geothermal heat pumps can be claimed. Some credits, but not all, are available only on principal residences. Home-based workers must be careful. The expenditure must be for a nonbusiness purpose; if less than 80 percent of the use of an item is for a nonbusiness (such as living in your house), only that portion of the expenditure qualifies.

For example, say Bob purchases a $6,000 solar panel for his home. If he uses 30 percent of his house for business, his credit is limited to 70 percent. That would be $1,260 ($6,000 multiplied by 30 percent and then by 70 percent). Conversely, if the business use of his home absorbs only 10 percent of its square footage, he would be eligible for the full credit of $1,800 (30 percent of $6,000).

Mortgage Banker Production Profits Narrow Further in Q1 2010

Profit margins for independent mortgage bankers and subsidiaries continued to fall in the first quarter of this year, as production volume declined and production operating expenses rose, the Mortgage Bankers Association (MBA) reported Tuesday. According to MBA's quarterly survey, independent mortgage bankers and subsidiaries made an average profit of $606 on each loan they originated in Q1, down from $890 per loan in the fourth quarter of 2009 and substantially lower than the $1,088 average profit recorded one year ago.

HAMP Mods Increase Again in June as Big Four Banks Lead the Way

Bolstered by the big four banks' loss mitigation efforts, the total number of active permanent modifications completed under the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) jumped to 389,198 as of the end of June. Servicers completed 51,205 permanent modifications during the month, and more than half – 26,525 – of these were initiated by the nation's four largest banks – Bank of America, Wells Fargo, JPMorgan Chase, and Citi.

According to Treasury’s report, HomeEq Servicing had the highest permanent modification conversion rate in June, coming in at 89 percent. Carrington Mortgage Services moved up to the No. 2 spot with an 80 percent conversion rate, and Wachovia came in next with a 77 percent conversion rate. Ocwen, which had held steady at an 83 percent conversion rate in months prior, moved down to the fourth spot with a conversion rate of 71 percent in June.

S&P/Experian Index Shows Mortgage Defaults Down 45% from 2009

Data through June 2010, released Tuesday by Standard & Poor's and Experian points to a declining trend in consumer default rates, with a reduction in first mortgage past dues leading the drop. Based on data extracted from Experian's database of approximately $11 trillion in outstanding loans, first and second mortgage default rates were 3.3 percent and 2.4 percent, respectively, as of the end of last month. The companies say default rates on first mortgages are down 45 percent from a year ago; second mortgage defaults have dropped 44 percent. The S&P/Experian consumer credit default indices are calculated based on data extracted from Experian’s consumer credit database, which is populated with individual consumer loan and payment data submitted by lenders to Experian every month. Experian’s data repository covers approximately $11 trillion in outstanding loans sourced from 11,500 banks and mortgage companies.

HAMP Redefault Rate Less Than 2% After Six Months

New data from the Treasury shows that the redefault rate for the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) is far lower than many critics have projected and well below typical industry averages. According to the July report, the re-default rate (90 or more days past due) for homeowners in permanent modifications for at least six months is 1.7 percent. The latest figures from the OCC put the redefault rate of mortgages modified by the nation's 11 largest servicers – incorporating proprietary mod programs – at 57 percent. Homeowners in permanent modifications are receiving a median payment reduction of 36 percent, more than $500 per month, according to the Treasury’s July report. Homeowners in permanent modifications are guaranteed lower payments for five years as long as they remain current. After five years, then the loan structure is adjusted to offer fixed terms that lock in today’s low interest rates for the life of the mortgage.

Countrywide's "VIP" Loans to Fannie Mae Employees Cited

Countrywide Financial Corp.'s controversial "VIP" mortgage program made 153 loans to employees of Fannie Mae, the giant federally backed financial institution that helped fuel Countrywide's growth, according to a letter released yesterday by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the Wall Street Journal reported today. Another 20 such VIP loans, which often provided mortgages on terms more favorable than those available to the general public, went to employees of Freddie Mac, another big government-backed buyer of mortgage loans, the Issa letter said. Issa said that the new information provides further evidence that Countrywide Financial was improperly trying to "curry favor and get an edge" by passing out financial favors. Issa's letter went to the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It is the latest salvo in a two-year-old investigation of the VIP program spearheaded by Issa. Last week he released a letter saying that 30 VIP loans had gone to U.S. Senators or Senate employees.

Is 'Thompkins' the Death Knell of 'Miranda'?

A recent Supreme Court decision greatly expands the powers of law enforcement officers during custodial interrogations. Berghuis v. Thompkins lessens the government's burden to show waiver of a suspect's right to remain silent, and clarifies law enforcement obligations that were established in Miranda v. Arizona more than 40 years ago. Is Thompkins the death knell of Miranda? Attorney D. Michael Crites and summer associate Anjali P. Chavan examine the meaning and impact of Thompkins.'Thompkins'%20the%20Death%20Knell%20of%20'Miranda'%3F

Freddie Mac to Hold REO Auction in Phoenix

Freddie Mac said Friday that it has teamed up with real estate auction specialist REDC and the asset management firm New Vista to sell off 135 homes the GSE has repossessed through foreclosure at an auction event in Phoenix, Arizona. The HomeSteps REO homes will be auctioned off to individual homebuyers at the Phoenix Convention Center on August 7. Almost a third of the homes are being set-aside specifically for first-time borrowers participating in the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP).

David Stern has 20% of all the cases

As lawyer for several major banks, David J. Stern handles 20 percent of all foreclosure cases in the nation's fourth most populous state. It is from Stern's law firm that well over 100,000 Floridians, including many in the Tampa Bay area, have received the dreaded notice to pay up or face losing their homes.

The foreclosure business has been good to Stern, who lives in a $15 million Fort Lauderdale mansion and reaped $58.5 million by selling his back-office operations to a new public company in which he is a major shareholder.

More Than a Whiff of Weed Needed for Warrantless Truck Search, N.J. Court Rules

Applying retroactively State v. Pena-Flores, 198 N.J. 6 (2009), which requires both probable cause and exigent circumstances for a warrantless search, the judges in State v. Pompa, A-0139-08, said a strong odor of marijuana could supply the former but not the latter. Unless the driver consents, a warrantless search can be conducted only if a three-part test is satisfied: the stop is unexpected; police have probable cause the vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime; and exigent circumstances make it impracticable to seek a warrant. Fisher said the first two Pena-Flores requirements were satisfied but not the third.

Fisher said it would have been permissible under the business exception to search the sleeping compartment without a warrant to determine if it met DOT safety regulations. "However, the regulations do not encompass closets or personal belongings inside a sleeper cabin and, as a result, the closely regulated business exception cannot form the basis for a warrantless search into those areas," he said.

Public Defender Yvonne Smith Segars called the ruling a "common sense application of the rules set forth by the Supreme Court in Pena-Flores governing the search of moving vehicles."

FHFA Proposes Rule On Conservatorship And Receivership Operations

The Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) has sent to the Federal Register a proposed rule to codify the terms of conservatorship and receivership operations for Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan Banks, pursuant to the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 (HERA). The proposed rule parallels many of the provisions in the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) rules for conservatorships and receiverships.