Bloomberg News Columnist – Banks Foreclose First, Ask Any Questions Later: Ann Woolner


Banks Foreclose First, Ask Any Questions Later: Ann Woolner

Ann Woolner

WoolnerSept. 16 (Bloomberg) — U.S. home seizures reached a record for the third time in five months in August as lenders completed the foreclosure process for thousands of delinquent owners, according to RealtyTrac Inc. Bloomberg’s Su Keenan reports. (Source: Bloomberg)

There was a time, not long ago, when having a home of your own signaled stability. It was a stake in a community, a place for individuals to come into their own or for families to grow. It was a solemn obligation to a financial institution, a statement of the bank’s faith in you, an investment for old age.

So much for that. These days, millions of houses across the country sit empty or shelter owners who can’t or won’t make mortgage payments. The vacancies give lie to the notion of home ownership as a road to stability.

As dismal as the housing market is, at least we could cling to the idea that the nation was slowly climbing out of the mortgage mess. However painful foreclosure and heartbreaking evictions, the country was working its way toward still-distant normalcy.

This month hope for a stabilized housing market took a hit, as Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit halted evictions in 23 states. Attorneys general in two more states also are demanding moratoria.

The culprit is sloppy, possibly fraudulent, paperwork by at least one manager at the division. And it looks like he was doing what lots of other foreclosure processors were doing, too.

We’ve seen this culprit before. Sloppy research and sometimes fraudulent paperwork by lenders, loan packagers, credit raters and insurers of mortgage-backed securities kicked off the mortgage disaster in the first place.

The only difference is that this time it’s occurring at the rear end of the business, foreclosures.

Did anybody working at mortgage lenders learn anything over the past two years? And shouldn’t banks be careful about taking away someone’s home?

No Checks

GMAC middle manager Jeffrey Stephan said in a deposition that he signed 10,000 foreclosure packages a month. To accomplish that, he had to give up something. What he omitted was checking to see whether the named owner was really in default and whether the listed mortgage holder in fact still held the mortgage.

In other words, he had no time to check the facts contained in the papers whose accuracy he was guaranteeing. Nor did he bother to always have a notary present when he signed, as required.

Likewise, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. executive said in a deposition last May that she hadn’t personally verified information on the thousands of affidavits and other documents she signed so that her bank could foreclose on houses.

Review Process

Beth Ann Cottrell, an operation supervisor at the company’s Chase Home Finance unit…

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One Response to “Bloomberg News Columnist – Banks Foreclose First, Ask Any Questions Later: Ann Woolner”
  1. Tim Barker says:

    To me its just like filling up main street with trillions of dollars of hundred dollar bills flying around the street, then the bank goes on the news and says come one, come all, credit doesnt matter, job doesnt matter, just come on down here to main street and grab as many hundred dollar bills as you can, no requirements. 25million people show up to main st to finally get their free $100 bills, the poor are finally going to get a piece of the pie. so heres the rules. everyone starts here at the start line and you have 2 hours to run up and down this street and grab as many hundred dollar bills as possible, then once the 2 hours is up you will hear a buzzer and you have to get the finish line where we will be waiting for you all to see how well you all did. So everyone starts running around picking up the hundred dollar bills, people are loaded, there is no more room in the pockets, people have hundreds falling out of thier ears, then the buzzer goes off and the game is up, everyone to the finish line to find out that there are lawyers and cops and judges to say, now that you fell for our scam we are taking all those hundred dollar bills back plus all the money you all brought with you today, plus your credit cards and your cars, thank you for participating in this cruel social experiment that you all failed and there is buses waiting around the corner to take you all to the shelter, please leave your keys with the bailiff.

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