By Lynn E. Szymoniak, Esq., Ed. Fraud Digest, May 6, 2010
Many mortgage-backed securitized trusts are missing critical documents needed to foreclose – i.e., the mortgage assignment. An excellent discussion of this is found in the decision of Massachusetts Land Court Judge Keith Long reaffirming a 2009 ruling (Ibanez) that invalidated foreclosures on two properties because the lenders did not hold clear title to the properties at the time of the foreclosure sale. Mortgage assignments were a key issue in Ibanez, a case that involved ineffective assignments to the Trust. Judge Long noted:
…the plaintiffs’ own securitization documents required mortgage assignments to be made to the plaintiffs in recordable form for each and every loan at the time the plaintiffs acquired them. Surely, compliance with this requirement would (and certainly should) have been a priority for an entity issuing securities dependent on recoveries from loans, such as these, known from the start to have a higher than normal risk of delinquency and default. U.S. BANK, N.A. v. Antonio Ibanez, et al., Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Land Court Dept., 08 MISC 384283 (KCL).
This Ibanez decision and many others deal with the issue of mortgage assignments prepared years after the closing date of the trust, usually when the Trustee or mortgage servicer has realized that the Trust does not have the assignment needed to foreclose or has a defective assignment – such as one issued in blank, unsigned and undated.
Many trusts and servicers try to replace the missing assignments, often with assignments executed within a few months of the foreclosure – and in many cases even after the foreclosure is filed or the home is sold (in non-judicial foreclosure states). The date and place of the Assignment often reveals whether the Assignment is actually a “replacement” – issued years after the Trust closed, and even years after the original lender supposedly making the Assignment disappeared into bankruptcy.
The servicer rarely identifies itself and discloses that this is an attempt to replace a missing assignment. It is, therefore, very useful to know that Mortgage Assignments notarized in the counties above are more often than not replacement Assignments prepared by or on behalf of the Trusts – by the servicers for the Trust or document preparation companies working for the servicers, or even law firm employees working for the Trust.
MORTGAGE SERVICING COMPANIES PREPARING “ REPLACEMENT” MORTGAGE ASSIGNMENTS