Posts filed under “Foreclosures”

Stern Foreclosure Factory: $260 Million in 2009 Revenues

Here is today’s astonishing factoid: The Sun Sentinel paper in Florida publishes a series of  “At a glance” overviews of various Florida firms and people.

Today’s subject: The various RE related holdings of one David Stern — his law firm, his Virgin Island based legal processing firm — publicly traded! — and his Title company.

The numbers were astonishing:

“David Stern’s law firm handles 20 percent of Florida’s foreclosure cases. It does foreclosure work for most of the nation’s top mortgage servicers.

The firm is based in Plantation and has hundreds of employees, with additional offices in Puerto Rico, Miami and Kentucky.

Stern is also CEO of publicly traded DJSP Enterprises (Nasdaq: DJSP), registered in the British Virgin Islands but based in Plantation. The company operates as the non-legal arm of Stern’s law firm, which accounts for more than 90 percent of DJSP’s business. DJSP affiliates include DJS Processing, Professional Title & Abstract Co. of Florida, and Default Servicing LLC.

According to its SEC filings, DJSP and its affiliates had $260 million in gross revenues last year. DJSP handled 70,382 foreclosure cases in 2009.” (emphasis added)

The goal here was not to pursue prosecute foreclosures on behalf of a banking client; rather it was to crank out the assembly line factory to grab 100s of millions of dollars, legally or illegally, consequences be damned.

Vultures and undertakers serve important roles in the biology of all econ-systems.  But the vast wealth from his on-the-cheap, down and dirty foreclosure mill, currently under investigation for forged documents, and fraud, is giving vultures a bad name:

For Americans, the foreclosure crisis has wiped out fortunes, bringing destitution and homelessness. For Florida attorney David J. Stern, it has brought mansions, a Bugatti sports car and a luxury yacht.

Florida has the third-highest residential foreclosure rate in the U.S., and Stern, 50, has made a fortune off the bust. His foreclosure-processing business has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue preparing documents for the cases that his law firm brings on behalf of lenders seeking to reclaim homes from borrowers who can’t pay their mortgages.

Who wants to take the over/under as to whether this f%$ker will be spending some time in the graybar hotel within 5 years . . . ?

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Source:
At a glance: Law offices of David Stern
Diane C. Lade
Sun Sentinel, October 20, 2010
http://www.sun-sentinel.com/business/fl-foreclosures-florida-bar-2-20101020,0,6678962.story

Data Sources: Securities and Exchange Commission, St. Petersburg Times, DJSPenterprises.com

Foreclosure Fortune Buys Bugatti, Yacht for Attorney
David McLaughlin
Bloomberg Oct. 19 2010
http://noir.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=ayoBI1pkh.AY

Category: Credit, Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate

Dumb Article of the Day: “Niche Lawyers Spawned Housing Fracas”

Wow, the WSJ really seems to be on my Thursday S^%$ list: “It was a first step in the growth of a legal sub-specialty called foreclosure defense that has sown confusion and turmoil in the housing market. Lawyers in the field now commonly use a technique more identified with corporate litigation: probing depositions, designed to…Read More

Category: Financial Press, Foreclosures, Legal

(This is a series giving a basic explanation of the current foreclosure fraud crisis from Mike Konczal; This is Part Two; you should also see Part One ) The SEIU has a campaign: Where’s the Note? Demand to see your mortgage note. It’s worth checking out. But first, what is this note? And why would…Read More

Category: Foreclosures, Legal, Think Tank

How BofA Can Prove No Foreclosures Were Invalid

Want to eliminate uncertainty from the REO / foreclosure market and legal system? One simple SarbOX affidavit filed with the SEC will do it: I hereby affirm that my staff (and I) have reviewed the current, pending and recently completed foreclosures. In no instances did we find any substantive errors, including: The wrong house being…Read More

Category: Corporate Management, Credit, Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate, Regulation

The Foreclosure Mess

This commentary, forwarded by David Kotok, is a very worthwhile read — but it has a significant legal flaw in it that requires me to preface it with the following: Courts have long had the authority to apply principles of equity, as opposed to common or statutory law, to cases brought before it.

Included in this means is preventing outcomes that unjustly enrich wrongdoers, or other similar bad outcomes. With the foreclosure fraud cases, we have two actors that are not blameless here: The homeowner, who is in default, and the banks/securitizers, that failed to do the document creation and title management correctly.

Judges in civil cases do not want to see an absurd outcome. Rewarding either the homeowner (free house!) or the lenders (No penalty for massive screw ups!) would offend those principles of equity and fairness.

What might be a “just” outcome in these cases?  An example of a possible fix in a full blown litigation might be for the court to order the mortgage modified to the current equity value of the home, so that it a) punishes the lenders who failed to do their proper legal work on the documents, but b) does not give a home to a defaulted homeowner for free. The odds would be that the homeowner still gets foreclosed on, but does not owe additional monies to the bank. Since these are very often uncollectible judgments anyway, the court’s judgment can mete out justice fairly, not give anyone an undeserved windfall, yet move the cases forward. That is but one “just” solution, and I am confident that most courts have the sophistication to fashion an appropriate remedy.

Courts of “equity” (meaning “just, fairness”) can apply these principles to avoid ridiculous outcomes. Whether they choose to do so or not will be determined by them.

-BR

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The Foreclosure Mess
October 15, 2010
David Kotok
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[BR: Update: The original post was written by Gonzalo Lira].

Dear Readers, this text came to me in an email from sources that are in the financial services business and with whom I have a personal relationship.  The original text was laced with expletives and I would not use it in the form I received it.  Therefore the text below has had some substantial editing in order to remove that language.  The intentions of the writer are undisturbed.  The writer shall remain anonymous.  This text echoes some of the news items we have seen and heard today; however, it can serve as a plain language description of the present foreclosure-suspension mess. There is a lot here.  It takes about ten minutes to read it.

-David Kotok

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Homeowners can only be foreclosed and evicted from their homes by the person or institution who actually has the loan paper—only the note-holder has legal standing to ask a court to foreclose and evict. Not the mortgage, the note, which is the actual IOU that people sign, promising to pay back the mortgage loan.

Before mortgage-backed securities, most mortgage loans were issued by the local savings & loan. So the note usually didn’t go anywhere: it stayed in the offices of the S&L down the street.

But once mortgage loan securitization happened, things got sloppy—they got sloppy by the very nature of mortgage-backed securities.

The whole purpose of MBSs was for different investors to have their different risk appetites satiated with different bonds. Some bond customers wanted super-safe bonds with low returns, some others wanted riskier bonds with correspondingly higher rates of return.
Therefore, as everyone knows, the loans were “bundled” into REMIC’s (Real-Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits, a special vehicle designed to hold the loans for tax purposes), and then “sliced & diced”—split up and put into tranches, according to their likelihood of default, their interest rates, and other characteristics.

This slicing and dicing created “senior tranches,” where the loans would likely be paid in full, if the past history of mortgage loan statistics was to be believed. And it also created “junior tranches,” where the loans might well default, again according to past history and statistics. (A whole range of tranches was created, of course, but for the purposes of this discussion we can ignore all those countless other variations.)

These various tranches were sold to different investors, according to their risk appetite. That’s why some of the MBS bonds were rated as safe as Treasury bonds, and others were rated by the ratings agencies as risky as junk bonds.

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Category: Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate

Foreclosure Fraud: “Systemic, Industrywide, Pervasive”

A strong article in the Washington Post makes it so clear that even a CNN anchor can understand it: A huge portion of the Fraudclosure mess was by design. These weren’t erroneous ‘i’s that were not dotted and ‘t’s that were not crossed; It was a mad rush to do yet another extremely important legal…Read More

Category: Credit, Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate

The Impact of Error From Securitization to Foreclosure

There are quite a few misunderstandings, denials, and exaggerations floating around as to what the final outcome might be of “Fraudclosure.” At the current stage, we really do not know how extensive the problems are. We could make wild and unsubstantiated conclusions, but we prefer reason and logic. So let’s break this down as to…Read More

Category: Derivatives, Foreclosures, Legal

Quote of the Day: Robo-Signers

I am not sure why so many people are so confused over the concerns of the legal status of robo-signers. I’ll let Thomas A. Cox, a retired lawyer, describe GMAC’s foreclosure process and the work of its limited signing officer, Jeffrey Stephan in a court filing: “When Stephan says in an affidavit that he has…Read More

Category: Credit, Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate

Fraudclosure

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Category: Foreclosures, Legal, Video

CrowdSource: Legal Impossibilities & Foreclosure Errors

I had a bizarre experience today where someone told me that none of the parade of horribles we have been discussing have actually happening. He didn’t use the word myth, but he sure implied it. I quickly pulled these examples, but I want to ask you the reader: What other cases are there of actual…Read More

Category: Foreclosures, Legal, Real Estate