We have been stressing throughout this foreclosure ordeal in Nevada that there is something more messier then what is visible on the face (prima facie). WE are witnessing more bad news as JPMorgan Chase halted 56,000 foreclosures amid doubts that it had correctly followed laws on the foreclosure process. This news came soon after the announcement from GMAC Mortgage when suspended an undisclosed number of foreclosures to gain time to check its legal procedures. Now, Bank of America has announced similar measures. No one cared for this before the bubble as that was the notorious days for “no doc”, “low-doc” loans. Unfortunately, same spirit was shown in creating rapid foreclosures by mass production of these forged signatures, and foreclosure default notices and avoidance of states notice laws. After the bubble, banks, mostly large banks had consistently applied all kinds of tactics to frustrate federal government help in denying loan modifications of all sorts by either straight denial, or by hiring incompetent people, not supporting enough telephone lines or asking too much and needless paperwork. Now we learn that foreclosures, the end of the mortgage pipeline, have also been handled with a disregard for rules and standards. Here, we can see nothing but a continuous pattern of ineptness and incompetence. At issue now are affidavits that a foreclosing lender must file in many states’ courts. The person signing the affidavits attests to having knowledge of important facts, like the lender’s legal standing to foreclose and the amount owed. But in a rush to process hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, it turns out that the signers at Chase and GMAC processed 10,000 or more documents a month — “robo-signing” in industry parlance — without personal knowledge of the facts. They were like signature machines affixing their signatures on thousands of documents without testing its reliability or authenticity.
We can not satisfy ourselves that hundreds and thousands of families have lost their homes while legal process was denied to them by these rob signature machine production of documents. Now, most of these crooked banks had stopped this process but what about people whose homes has already been foreclosed and their credit tarnished for the rest of their lives. Let us hope that banks learn some lesson. Some 700 or more of them had already closed, and some of them are still teetering on the brink of a disaster, but of course they never learn. To the extent the suspensions ensure a process that is legal and fair, they are to the good. But delays feed uncertainty, and that could be bad for the economy. Will they result in fewer foreclosures, helping to prop up prices? Or will they create a backlog of foreclosed homes that will push prices down when they come to market?
As we know that the central weakness in the administration’s antiforeclosure efforts is that participation by lenders has been voluntary. Banks should be advised to have their participation mandatory. The robo-signing scandal is yet another reminder that it is folly to rely on banks that got us into this mess to get us out. The Obama administration needs to revise its ways to help people. It would be good to fire Treasury secretary at this time. That would revive some of the lost expectations of Obama administration. 18 months is too long to have some teeth in the administration hands to curb this rising trends of foreclosure in Nevada. A recent article published in NY Times indicates how bad the economy is in Nevada at this time.