Legal relief for distressed homeowners

Many people have written asking for help with their foreclosures, following several articles I wrote on that subject. I’m not actively practicing law now, just writing, so I thought I would suggest some alternatives here. For legal help, you could try these websites —

http://livinglies.wordpress.com/in-trouble-right-now-press-here/lawyers-who-get-it-work-in-progress/

http://www.succeedwithloanmods.com/

http://www.carlperson.com/

http://www.citizensreformcenter.com

For steps to follow if you want to do it yourself, try this —

http://www.consumerwarningnetwork.com/2009/09/01/fight-foreclosure-make-em-produce-the-note-5/

http://cyclopswarrior.blogspot.com/2010/02/primer-on-how-to-successfully-challenge.html

A free book may be downloaded here —

“Debt Hope: Down and Dirty Survival Strategies” http://www.scribd.com/doc/25443175/Debt-Hope-Down-and-Dirty-Survival-Strategies-Evaluation-Version-Complete

Bobby Wilbert adds:

Please let your readers know about these sources for lawyers who fight foreclosures and who get it (some like me handle cases at no costs to clients). These lists have the best of the best in foreclosure defense —

http://maxbankruptcybootcamp.com/Boot_Camp_MasterList.pdf

http://naca.networkats.com/members_online/members/directorya.asp?token=

http://www.lsc.gov/map/index.php

Good luck!

39 Responses

  1. Ellen:

    Please let your readers know about these sources for lawyers who fight foreclosures and who get it (some like me handle cases at no costs to clients). These lists have the best of the best in foreclosure defense

    http://maxbankruptcybootcamp.com/Boot_Camp_MasterList.pdf

    http://naca.networkats.com/members_online/members/directorya.asp?token=

    http://www.lsc.gov/map/index.php

    • Thanks, I’ll add that! Ellen

    • I would like to be able to get a hold of Bobby Wilbert, I’m in need of help regarding our mortgage that was with countrywide and now with Bank Of America. If you can help us personally or advise us would be great. How do I get a hold of him?

      Jami

      • I think his contact information is on the page you replied to, no?

        • I can’t find his info there.

  2. Dear Ellen Brown,
    Fantastic article and book (Web of Debt).

    Concerning this article and it’s revelations, does one have to be in or close to foreclosure to reap these obvious benefits? I.E., The guy who is fortunate enough be able to pay bills on time, yet has discovered his bank sold the loan to MERS?

    Thanks.

    • In my work I have only seen this issue raised defensively–when the mortgagee or servicer sues for foreclosure. I have never seen it done affirmatively. What would it be a complaint for a declaratory judgment? Action to quiet title? (Just thinking out loud.)

      April Charney, the attorney who brought down the MERS regime with her novel theories, is waiting to see if she can get any of her clients title free and clear on this theory. I will keep you posted as her office is right next to mine.

      • I believe some of my mortgages are registered with MERS, although in Minnesota. For at least one of the mortgages, the customer service reps cannot tell me who holds the note. I’d love to have the loan and mortgage declared invalid and for the courts to release the lien.

        • Just an FYI, I’ve found this on the MERS site.
          Click the link on “MERS Legal Primer” where you can see court cases in said states. Some were involving persons who had no foreclosure notices, yet were challenging the system (I’m sure MERS has cherry picked these cases, however). Some cases have Judges changing
          the law in favor of MERS stating “although this has been seen as unfair lending practices in the past, it is now the way most mortgages are being handled.”
          Note there are no cases later than 2007 though.

          http://www.mersinc.org/Foreclosures/index.aspx

      • Bobby Wilbert,
        I thank you for the reply, will look forward to any further contacts.
        Take care.

      • I sued my lender back in March and I am not in default. It is a suit to quiet title.

        I have a 15 page complaint and will be filing a 35+ page response to my Original lender and Mers’ Motion to Dismiss. I expect to win. Neither MERS nor my original lender have standing to contest my suit to quiet title (no financial interest in my mortgage at all) though they are the only names on the pertinent note and deed of trust and though my original lender, who is still my servicer, continues to demand payment.

        I am sure they have lost my note as they have had six months to produce it and things would have been much easier if they had it.

        I will send you a pdf of my complaint and a copy of my response to the motion to dismiss.

        email me at davidgmillsatty@hotmail .com.

        • David,
          I’ve attempted to email you, and get the following response:

          “Mail Server Responded; Bad recipient address syntax
          Please check the message and try again”

          It appears there is a problem with the email address you left.

      • Hi… I just emailed April Charney… yesterday.. I figured I wouldn’t get a response… I KNOW she must be swamped with incoming correspondence.

        I am a real estate agent in Florida that is knowledgable, I have worked as a legal assistant and can not seem to find a STINKING attorney with a brain in their head??? I have been drafting my own Complaint for a Quiet Title Action… I feel both LOST and FREE!!! ??? Any information or good direction you could point me in is MOST appreciated. I have MANY people that are friends, customers, family and I WANT TO FREE people. HELP!! 😉

        • Hi, see my post on this blog, “Legal Relief for Distressed Homeowners,”
          https://webofdebt.wordpress.com/2009/10/04/legal-relief-for-distressed-homeowners/

  3. Foreclosure sales in limbo over title issue
    Expected ruling may complicate transactions

    By Jenifer B. McKim, Globe Staff | October 9, 2009

    A court decision expected as soon as today could negate the validity of sales of thousands of foreclosed homes in Massachusetts, causing havoc for buyers and sellers and further stalling the housing market’s recovery in hard-hit areas.

    At issue is proof of ownership at the time of a foreclosure sale. During the housing boom, millions of mortgages were bundled into bonds and sold to investors, a process that resulted in lengthy and twisted paper trails that can obscure ownership. Many lenders believed they could complete foreclosure transactions and later produce formal proof they held the mortgage.

    That changed in March when Justice Keith C. Long of Massachusetts Land Court found that two foreclosures in Springfield were invalid because ownership of the mortgages was not clear at the time of the foreclosures.

    Long’s ruling, which came as a shock to many who deal with distressed properties, called into question the ownership of hundreds if not thousands of foreclosed homes in Massachusetts, prompting some lenders to delay sales out of fear they could later be voided, title companies to balk at insuring them, and nonprofits to steer away from certain foreclosed homes altogether.

    “There are thousands and thousands of titles that have gone through foreclosures with these late filed’’ ownership records, said Lawrence Scofield, an attorney with Ablitt Law Offices in Woburn, who represented plaintiffs in three consolidated Springfield cases ruled on by Long. “Judge Long is saying you don’t really own it. That is the real, overwhelming, economic effect.’’

    Two of the plaintiffs asked Long to reconsider the ruling, and a decision is imminent.

    Among those watching the case are Boston city officials, who say they hope Long will clarify title issues for homes that have already gone into foreclosure. In the meantime, the judge’s actions have stymied the city’s effort to buy as many as 20 bank-owned properties, hurting much-needed redevelopment efforts in neighborhoods plagued by foreclosure, officials said.

    “It has put some properties in the state of limbo,’’ said Evelyn Friedman, director of Boston’s Department of Neighborhood Development.

    While title issues can affect any home sale, Long’s ruling addressed procedures required under foreclosure law and therefore only affects properties foreclosed on by a lender. His decision builds on a growing national movement among housing advocates, courts, and some lawmakers to push lenders dealing with foreclosed properties to produce accurate documentation before deals are consummated.

    Kathleen Engel, professor of law at Suffolk University, said the federal government should step in to help states deal with “toxic titles’’ that are clogging up the system from California to Florida. She said until recently few people were scrutinizing paperwork of foreclosing lenders, whose actions are causing problems for borrowers, investors, and municipalities. No matter how Long rules, she said, the problem isn’t going away.

    “The fundamental problem is the paperwork was really shoddy,’’ said Engel. “The mess was created by Wall Street.’’

    Locally, the Massachusetts decision has pitted advocates trying to revive neighborhoods against others trying to help homeowners stave off foreclosures.

    Gary Klein, a consumer law attorney who filed a friend of the court brief in the case, said the real estate system placed “expedience and convenience’’ before the law. Providing home buyers with a “full set of procedural protections,’’ he said, is more important than comforting lenders who ignored the law. He said the lending community created the mess and it needs to fix it.

    Klein said there is a benefit to the ruling for homeowners in trouble: It is slowing the foreclosure process, allowing them more time to try to save their homes. Indeed, since March, the number of foreclosure deeds has slowed, according to Warren Group, a Boston company that provides real estate data.

    “There are probably at least a thousand families who are getting at least some period of temporary delay while lenders go back and get a proper paper trail,’’ said Klein, an attorney with the Boston-based law firm Roddy, Klein and Ryan. “Slowing foreclosures down allows people to get loan modifications and other relief.’’

    The Springfield lawsuit was filed not by homeowners seeking to regain their houses, but by the foreclosing lenders who were trying to remove a “cloud from the title’’ of properties created because of where the lenders chose to publish foreclosure auction notices. A secondary issue was whether the notices – which did not officially name the mortgage holders – complied with the law, and that is what Long is concerned about.

    The Real Estate Bar Association for Massachusetts, a statewide group with 3,000 members, joined the plaintiff’s attorney to ask the court to reconsider its ruling. Attorney Christopher Pitt, chair of the group’s Title Standards Committee, said many banks already have changed their procedures as a result of the March decision and are now coming to foreclosure-sale closings with completed paperwork.

    But that doesn’t help people who already bought a foreclosed property from a bank.

    “If a property has one of those arguably defective foreclosures in its back title, right now you may not be able to refinance or sell it,’’ said Pitt, who works for the law firm Robinson & Cole, which has an office in Boston.

    In Springfield, the ruling scuttled purchases of two foreclosed properties in depressed areas, said Rudy Perkins, a staff lawyer with HAPHousing, a nonprofit that promotes affordable housing. As a result, Perkins said, the agency now steers clear of properties with similar title questions.

    “There is a danger that if this can’t be resolved, those properties will stay boarded up,’’ said Perkins. “It killed the deals and, unfortunately, it is going to kill deals on other properties.’’

    In North Andover, real estate agent Linda Kody said some banks have moved to redo a foreclosure rather than wait for Long’s decision. Others are not moving forward with foreclosures. Twelve pending sales in her office have collapsed recently, Kody said, and another 25 bank-owned property listings are on hold as lenders wait for a ruling.

    “It is very upsetting,’’ said Kody, president of the real estate firm Kody & Co. Inc.

    Biju Kachappilly, a father of two, is one of the many hopeful buyers awaiting the decision. Kachappilly said his pending purchase of a four-bedroom, $400,000 Colonial in Tyngsborough in April fell through over questions about the title. He still hopes to buy the home, but in the meantime is paying higher rent on a month-to-month apartment in Billerica after notifying the landlord of his plans to move.

    “We are trying to buy a house and move our family there; it is good for the neighborhood and it is good for the town,’’ said Kachappilly. “Many families and houses are in limbo because of this decision.’’

    Jenifer McKim can be reached at jmckim@globe.com.

    • hello Bobby Wilbert,

      thanks a lot for the info you provide, it really helped me. may be useful also for others.

  4. Update: On October 28, 2009, the judge dismissed my case. So I am making preparations for appeal. The judge decided my case was not ripe which means that he thought maybe I needed to have defaulted and was being foreclosed upon before I had a real “Injury.” Apparently, having a cloud on your title created by an unenforceable (lost) note is not sufficient harm. I don’t think he gets it yet and perhaps has some cognitive dissonance and just can’t believe this is all true.

    I think he also thinks I am just trying to skip out on my mortgage. I think he still thinks I am a bad guy.

    I am sure he is ignoring the law. But I could tell by his face that he was genuinely concerned by all of this. He listened intently.

    During the hearing, opposing counsel, who wants to make me out as someone trying to game the system, made a serious mistake. She told the judge that all I had to do to confirm that Fannie Mae held my mortgage was go to Fannie Mae’s website and look up my loan. Well after the hearing I did, and Fannie Mae’s website clearly shows that Fannie Mae does not own my loan as my original lender, now servicer, has been telling the judge. OOPS! It took me all of five minutes to find out.

    So Friday October 30, I filed a motion with the court to make payments into the registry of the court pending appeal and as part of my grounds I will be attaching a screen shot of the Fannie Mae web page which shows that Fannie Mae does not own my loan. Putting funds into the registry of the court is something a party, who owes money, but does not know who he owes, is something the courts commonly do. I will get to point out once again nobody knows who I actually owe and it would certainly be unjust to continue paying someone who can’t prove that I owe who they claim I owe.

    So we will have a hearing on that next Friday It is uncommon to allow this though when you have lost at the trial level so I don’t expect the judge to allow me to do so, but he might.

    I also will be filing a motion for reconsideration. The judge granted the motion to dismiss on the grounds of “ripeness.” This means he thinks I was not yet harmed. But this is very flawed. Anyone who has a lien on their property is harmed by it. A lien prevents or deters the ability to sell and it prevents using the property as collateral for a loan. So he is absolutely wrong on this.

    I will also point out in my motion for reconsideration that the Defendants filed to discuss two of my causes of action and failed to prove these causes of action were not valid. These causes of action were not addressed in the Motion to Dismiss nor in the hearing so they will be new matters for consideration, not matters the judge has already considered.

    In the meantime, we will be getting ready to go to the Court of Appeals, and after that, the Tennessee Supreme Court.

    • David,

      I am interested in doing a quiet title action for my home too. Could you email
      me your complaint and response to motion to dismiss? I agree with you in that if there is lien or encumbrance on your property that is invalid, this is an actual harm or injury that you have already sustained. Press forward with the appeal and I hope you win! It is important for you to be up to speed with the securitization process so you can explain to the judge in simple yet cogent terms how the process worked and how defective paperwork (note and mortgage assignments) go to the heart and substance of your claim and are not merely technical or a fly-by-the-wall argument, anymore than someone who sues for breach of contract but cannot produce the contract is hindered by a mere technical defect. Attorneys who refuse cases because they scoff at the “produce the note” strategy as a mere delaying tactic that will not prevent the foregone conclusion of eventual foreclosure are doing so mostly because of ignorance – because they don’t have a deep knowledge of how these mortgage loans were securitized, don’t understand the “true sale” concept and how the failure to properly and timely assign the notes and mortgages prevent a “true sale” which renders the party with a beneficial interest in the property hanging on a gossamer thread with most likely only an equitable claim (like unjust enrichment) to the money they advanced (the loan).

  5. David,
    Good for you! Keep fighting–the law, history, morality, etc. is on your side. Fannie Mae’s loan lookup tool did say they owned my loan even after MERS recorded a fraudulent assignment at my county courthouse from MERS to BAC Home Loans (original lender was Countrywide). That didn’t pass the smell test; filed suit for a temporary restraining order to stop foreclosure sale and got it–in Mississippi.

    Freddie Mac also has a loan lookup tool. I don’t have the URL handy, but just do a Google search and it’ll come right up. But even if Freddie says they own your loan, they really don’t–the investors in Freddie Mac MBS do.

    If you haven’t already, do check out the Living Lies site that Ellen recommended–it’s very useful and has lots of info and tons of strategies. But since you filed a quiet title action without even being foreclosed on, it sounds like maybe you’re already hip to Living Lies.

  6. Bobby…excellent website, excellent information for folks who thought they were powerless against greedy bankers!

    Keep up the great work!

    Jim

  7. Heres a video re: Landmark National Bank v. Kesler

    • That’s great! Tempts me to go back into practicing law.

  8. Beginning a response to a notice of default in California.

    Does anyone know if the line of defense used in the Credit River case is viable? That case centered around the contention that the loan contract was illegal since there was not legal consideration.

    And there are some who are filing bonds with the Federal Reserve which is alleged to be payment in full. A cover letter is sent to the lender explaining the payoff proceedure, and a Lis Pendens filed for triple face value if a notice of default is filed. The claim is that the trustee cannot safely foreclose.

  9. I am very happy to see so many people fighting the Banksters of late, congrats, it is so nice to know I was not a mad person when I first picked up this mantle of home ownership, fighting the bankster. I was terrified that they might kill me for outright fighting them.

    • Yes, there appears to be a groundswell lately of people fighting foreclosures and credit card debt. One day we might actually have a powerful grassroots movement! War doesn’t seem to get people out in the streets like it used to, but losing their homes is a definite fire starter.

  10. The question becomes then, How many homes do we have to lose? before we say ,not one more! this is to say, that millions of homes have been lost so far, most people have gone into the night with such deafening silence, and they simply disappeared into the wilderness it seems.

    • Yes the focus in the news is on the stock market recovering. The homeless will be lost in the night unless we manage to get organized in some way. Not that I know exactly how, but we’re trying to get something together with our public banking group. Still hammering out the details before “going public.”

  11. Filing Bonds with the federal reserve? David can you speak to me more of this please?

  12. Any updates since December 21st? That’s the last blog entry I see. What happened with Davidgmills lawsuit? Any success in California if you aren’t delinquent? I found out MERS California license was suspended in 2002 and as far as I can tell, it wasn’t re-actived until 2009. If they weren’t licensed, how could they be the beneficiary on all of my Deeds that were originated in 2005 and 2006?

    • Excellent questions! April Charney, the attorney who has been pushing the MERS litigation, just held a seminar in the L.A. area. I’ll forward your questions to someone who attended and might know the answers. Best, Ellen

      • Hi Ellen,

        As you suggested I have been in contact with Rick Williams. We have been discussing potential litigation utilizing the RICO Act against Countrywide/Bank of America (my previous employer).

        My question still hasn’t been answered though about MERS California license suspension and whether that is relevant to the enforcement of my mortgage.

        Could you refer me to someone else who may know the answer to this question?

        Sincerely,

        Susan

  13. I put together a site that helps many going through foreclosure especially a foreclosure fraud with Videos and MERS info.

    DinSFLA
    http://stopforeclosurefraud.com/

    My latest video…

  14. Suggestions from Matthew Weidner, Esq.:

    MY GIFTS TO ALL OF YOU- MEMOS AND MOTIONS THAT WILL SHUT DOWN THE FORECLOSURE MILLS!

    From: MATTHEW D. WEIDNER, ESQ.

    I hear the criticisms of our judges but truth be told, I’ve never had a bad experience in front of a foreclosure judge….when I did my job, prepared my case and had a court reporter present. And while I respect the efforts of homeowners who start the fight pro se, if you want to save your home, if you want the respect of the court and the opposing party, you must hire an experienced foreclosure defense attorney to fight this battle.

    I’m posting these Motions and memorandum primarily so that other attorneys from around the state will use them, develop them and argue the issues in front of judges. The issues contained within these documents are very important and frankly they require experienced and committed attorneys to make the arguments correctly. These documents and the issues presented are tools and like any tool they should only be used by operators who are trained to use them. Having said that I just hate seeing these coverage attorneys for the foreclosure mills wheeling in their boxes of hundreds of foreclosure cases and throwing this garbage into our courtrooms. I am appalled that the mills have joined forces and share the same coverage attorneys between all the mills. Where is the formal and specific authorization for that attorney to represent that client before the court?

    How can coverage attorneys represent to the court that, there are no issues of material fact in the hundreds of files that are in his wheelbarrow when those files have been prepped by another law firm? Why is that attorney not required to file a Notice of Appearance so the court knows what attorney is affirmatively representing to the court the veracity and authenticity of all the facts in his case?

    Special thanks to my intrepid law clerk Michael Fuino who is primarily responsible for all the excellent research and drafting contained within these memos and motions. Hats off to him! Enough of all of that, here go the goods.

    affidavitmotiontostrike

    affirmitivedefenses

    allongemtd

    answernotverifiednotnegotiableetc

    objecttofeememorandumfeeaffidavit

    ————————————————

    PLEASE TAKE NOTICE PRO-SE LITIGANTS: You must do your own due diligence before you use these documents. They must be made to fit your situation. This is not one-size-fits-all. You must understand what you are doing. You must own the results produced.

  15. Greetings; To all Crusaders….
    We have a highly successful group in Washington state. Where we have 100% of the time been highly successful in eliminating mortgage notes. We are now in Oregon state on a commercial fact finding mission, anotherwards (a deal). Where we had a hearing with the county courts whereby the Bank is moving to evict us. Not 4hrs later we received a call on a trial date set 13 days out. We have only 7 days for discovery and prepare for trial. We can’t use our attorneys in Washington state, so we’re looking for an attorney lic’d in Oregon friendly to our objectives of mortgage note eliminations. For now we’re just trying to make time to prepare with a continuence to push back for a later time so to prepare for our task here in Clatsop County…….. Please respond asap!

    • Hi, sorry, I don’t know of any friendly attorneys in Oregon. I’d be interested in what your group has done to be successful though. We’re setting up a Public Banking Institute and will link the website to a blog called Debtrebellion.com, where we’ll post suggestions for foreclosure relief, sample pleadings that can be copied in pro per, etc., and provide a forum for people to blog with each other.

  16. true… you know what they say…The problem with Socialism is that eventually you run out of other peoples money -Thatcher

    • The adage doesn’t apply to socialism, but does to TBTF finance capitalism.

  17. Trying to deal with regular bank employees got me nowhere. So, I filed a case in Small Claims Court. BofA was served. Within a week I received a call from the LEGAL DEPARTMENT of Bank of America.

    Of course, and I knew it, Small Claims Court doesn’t have jurisdiction. But, that isn’t my point. Getting them into Court was my point and filing in ANY COURT stopped the Foreclosure, got phone calls coming in and it only cost me $20.

    When the calls came in, they asked what I wanted. I told them they needed to clear my credit rating because I had made the modification contract payments. This took just over 30 days and my credit went back up to 750 where it was before from 620 caused by their bad monthly reporting.

    I told them I wanted a loan at lower interest backdated to the day I FedEx’d them my signed contract and all fees, penalties, etc. waived.
    This took them 90 days to accomplish. And, I was given $2,000 to entice me to sign. (I can make a photocopy of the check #0011631832 written on a BofA Providence, RI account available to Ellen.)

    I refused to sign until I was indemnified because they know and I know that none of these services actually can produce the NOTE. They already had been paid by the investors for their home loan to me. But, they screwed the investors out of their paperwork so they could make up weird derivative security paper and go around the County Officer of the Deeds. They traded this stuff around so fast and so many times that they didn’t take care of the PAPERWORK. (Think Robo-Signing)

    I knew that they were foreclosing only to get the Mortgage Insurance payoff. They had no real INTEREST in our house. I was out more money than they were or anyone else in actual money payment toward the house I had bought. They knew that the chances of investors ever locating my house was almost nil, so they were going to sucker me into taking out a modification and run their “Dual Track” game against me, ruining my credit, trapping me from being able to borrow to ever get out of their clutches.

    However, from the start I told them that if they moved my case into a court that actually had jurisdiction, I would counter sue for CLEAR TITLE. I knew that they didn’t have the NOTE and I knew in New York State Court they would not be able to prove that they had any interest in the house, nor would Freddie or Fannie, who were driving the foreclosure, be able to prove that they own any of the mortgages they claim to own.

    Investors lost their money a long time ago when the paperwork on my house and MILLIONS of others were not forwarded to them properly and ON TIME. They can sue BofA, and some larger investors have, but most probably will not get their case in court for a decade. So, if the proof that I had gathered with the help of people who have been proving up mortgage loan documents for decades (see Ellen’s recommended list above) was presented in the right court, I thought that I had a chance of killing them. Their NYCity law firm thought so too, I think, but will never know for sure.

    But, for sure, get it into court someway somehow. Find an Attorney with a banker with decades of experience working for big banks writing mortgage loans ON HIS STAFF. Knowing everything about this doesn’t help if you don’t have an attorney. But, attorneys by themselves really don’t understand all of this. Get all the knowledge about all your paperwork up front and file in small claims court. Worked for me.

  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Motion to Quiet Title Safety Harbor
    Florida. Regards

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