Foreclosure Notes 1/6/13 – 1/11/13

Taking a Stand (East Bay Express)

Representatives from ACCE, Causa Justa/Just Cause, and the Occupy Oakland Foreclosure Defense Committee say their direct-action tactics have saved dozens of homes in the last year alone… A year ago, a new player emerged when activists in Occupy Oakland marched from City Hall to the West Oakland home of Gayla Newsome to help her re-occupy her house… Leading the 24/7 occupation of Randolph’s house is the Occupy Oakland Foreclosure Defense Committee, formed after the successful defense of Newsome’s home.

Backed by new law, homeowners in Richmond, Oakland, fight to protect homes from foreclosure (Oakland North)

A few hours before the scheduled sale this morning, 20 residents gathered outside the Wells Fargo branch at 3450 Fruitvale Avenue in Oakland to protest the sale of Hudson’s house. At least 45 minutes before its scheduled time of sale, the sale was postponed by another 30 days to February 7.

Banks’ mortgage settlement draws skepticism (SF Chronicle)

Photo: Gaylynne Hudson, who was laid off from her teacher’s job, is struggling to hold on to her Oakland home, which was scheduled to go on the foreclosure auction block on Monday…

“We want to see that borrowers are made whole in as many ways as possible,” said Sasha Werblin, senior program manager at the Greenlining Institute, a Berkeley nonprofit that works for economic equity. “The $8.5 billion and other settlements are not comparable to the trillions of dollars in wealth sucked from communities by” poor lending standards that triggered the housing crisis.

Pamplona’s locksmiths join revolt as banks throw families from their homes (Guardian)

He is a locksmith who refuses to open locked doors; neither will he replace their locks with new ones. What may seem a disastrous strategy for Iker de Carlos… starting out in the world of cylinders, pins, bolts and lock springs in his home city of Pamplona, is actually part of a growing civic rebellion in support of the biggest losers in Spain’s five-year story of failing, mismanaged banks – those being thrown out of their homes after falling behind on mortgage payments… De Carlos consulted his fellow Pamplona locksmiths before Christmas. In no time at all, they came to an agreement. They would not do the dirty work of banks whose rash lending pumped up a housing bubble and then, after it popped, helped bring the country to its knees… At the height of Spain’s housing madness, banks were, in effect, offering mortgages of more than 100%.

Secret and Lies of the Bailout (Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone)

But in the end, almost nothing Summers promised actually materialized. A small slice of TARP was earmarked for foreclosure relief, but the resultant aid programs for homeowners turned out to be riddled with problems, for the perfectly logical reason that none of the bailout’s architects gave a shit about them… At the start, $50 billion of TARP funds were earmarked for HAMP. In 2010, the size of the program was cut to $30 billion. As of November of last year, a mere $4 billion total has been spent for loan modifications and other homeowner aid.

Bank of America to Pay $10 Billion in Settlement With Fannie Mae (NY Times)

Bank of America agreed on Monday to pay more than $10 billion to Fannie Mae to settle claims over troubled mortgages that soured during the housing crash, mostly loans issued by the bank’s Countrywide Financial subsidiary.

Writing the ‘Hardship Letter’ (New York Times)

HOMEOWNERS having trouble paying their mortgages may try to elicit sympathy from their lenders in long, emotional letters laden with woe.

“As though the institution you’re applying to has a heart,” observed Kelly Snitkin, a former housing counselor whose Manhattan law practice specializes in real estate. “It does not.”… Ms. Snitkin advises her clients that less is more when it comes to writing a hardship letter.

Oregon Supreme Court to hear arguments on foreclosure, mortgage industry’s MERS (Oregon Live)

MERS’ legal status has been in limbo since July, when the Oregon Court of Appeals ruled lenders have to file each deed assignment with counties before starting a traditional out-of-court foreclosure. That decision binds lower courts until the Supreme Court rules. In its wake — along with new foreclosure legislation that took effect earlier in the same month — out-of-court foreclosures have virtually stopped… In the meantime, the state Legislature may also consider legislation proposed by the banking industry to legally validate MERS, preempting the judiciary.

Special Report: The latest foreclosure horror: the zombie title (Reuters)

The Kellers are caught up in a little-known horror of the U.S. housing bust: the zombie title. Six years in, thousands of homeowners are finding themselves legally liable for houses they didn’t know they still owned after banks decided it wasn’t worth their while to complete foreclosures on them.

Bank Deal Ends Flawed Reviews of Foreclosures (NY Times)

Federal banking regulators are trumpeting an $8.5 billion settlement this week with 10 banks as quick justice for aggrieved homeowners, but the deal is actually a way to quietly paper over a deeply flawed review of foreclosed loans across America, according to current and former regulators and consultants… consulting firms that charged as much as $250 an hour and outsourced work to contract employees, many of whom had no experience reviewing mortgages… entire days were wasted assessing files to determine whether the borrowers had been overcharged by minuscule amounts like $5 for lawn mowing

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