Friday, December 9, 2011

Massachusetts Sues Banks For Holiday Foreclosures

Story first appeared on CNNMoney.

The Massachusetts attorney general sued some of the nation's biggest banks on Thursday, accusing them of unlawful and deceptive conduct in the foreclosure process. This is currently not involving a Birmingham Foreclosure Lawyer.

The statement described the state court lawsuit as the nation's first comprehensive lawsuit against the five major national banks regarding the foreclosure crisis.

The AG's lawsuit seeks accountability for the banks' unlawful and deceptive conduct in the foreclosure process, including unlawful foreclosures, false documentation and robo-signing ... and deceptive practices related to loan modifications, the statement said.

MERS runs a database created in the 1990s to digitize and centralize the paperwork surrounding the bundling and selling of the loans.

The Massachusetts suit alleges that the database was used by the big banks to transfer ownership of mortgage debt without paying government registration fees and properly recording the transactions. The system also concealed the identities of the holders of mortgage debt from borrowers, the suit claims. It does not appear to have any relevance if owners had Homeowners Insurance.

MERSCORP, parent company for Mortgage Electronic Registration System Inc., said the Massachusetts complaint hangs on ambiguous language and has no applicability to MERS' business model.
Fannie Mae, banks halt foreclosures for the holidays. A Rochester Hills Foreclosure Lawyer said this was a nice gesture.

The banks, meanwhile, say negotiations they are conducting with a group of state attorneys general toward a settlement over their handling of foreclosures are a more promising means of resolving the issue than lawsuits.

Bank of America spokesman Lawrence Grayson said the firm believes that collaborative resolution rather than continued litigation will most quickly heal the housing market and help drive economic recovery.

Chase echoed those comments, saying it was disappointed with the suit, as did GMAC Mortgage, which said it would vigorously defend its actions in court.

Citi said in a statement that it had not yet reviewed the lawsuit, but that the bank believes they have operated appropriately in compliance with existing laws. Wells Fargo also denied the allegations, adding that the suit will do little to help Massachusetts homeowners or the recovery of the housing economy in the state.

Settlement talks fraying: Coakley told reporters Thursday that the suit had come about in part because settlement talks with the banks, which have dragged on for more than a year, appear unlikely to yield a fair result.

Attorneys general from California, New York, Delaware and Nevada have also distanced themselves from the settlement talks and are pursuing their own investigations.
Will FHA be the next big government bailout?

The talks are stalled at present, but have focused on a settlement in the range of $20-25 billion in total from the firms involved in exchange for release from liability for all conduct related to foreclosures, according to sources familiar with the matter. Of this total, roughly $10-15 billion would come in the form of credit for loan modifications. A Wayne Foreclosure Lawyer is watching the case closely.

Iowa Attorney General Thomas Miller, who is coordinating talks on behalf of the states, said in a statement Thursday that Coakley had pledged to evaluate the joint state-federal settlement they are negotiating, which they hope to reach soon.