We may incur additional costs and expenses in ensuring that we satisfy requirements relating to our mortgage foreclosure processes and the industry-wide delay in processing foreclosures may have a significant impact upon loss severity. State and federal officials are investigating the procedures followed by mortgage servicing companies and banks, including HSBC Finance Corporation and certain of our affiliates, relating to foreclosures. We and our affiliates have responded to all related inquiries and cooperated with all applicable investigations, including a joint examination by staffs of the Federal Reserve and the OCC as part of their broad horizontal review of industry foreclosure practices. Following the examination, the Federal Reserve issued a supervisory letter to HSBC Finance Corporation and HSBC North America noting certain deficiencies in the processing, preparation and signing of affidavits and other documents supporting foreclosures and in governance of and resources devoted to our foreclosure processes, including the evaluation and monitoring of third party law firms retained to effect our foreclosures. Certain other processes were deemed adequate. The OCC issued a similar supervisory letter to HSBC Bank USA. We have suspended foreclosures until such time as we have substantially addressed the noted deficiencies in our processes. We are also reviewing foreclosures where judgment has not yet been entered and will correct deficient documentation and re-file affidavits where necessary.
We and our affiliates are engaged in discussions with the Federal Reserve and the OCC regarding the terms of consent cease and desist orders, which will prescribe actions to address the deficiencies noted in the joint examination. We expect the consent orders will be finalized shortly after the date this Form 10-K is filed. While the impact of the Federal Reserve consent order on HSBC Finance Corporation depends on the final terms, we believe it has the potential to increase our operational, reputational and legal risk profiles and expect implementation of its provisions will require significant financial and managerial resources. In addition, the consent orders will not preclude further actions against HSBC Finance Corporation or our affiliates by bank regulatory or other agencies, including the imposition of fines and civil money penalties. We are unable at this time, however, to determine the likelihood of any further action or the amount of penalties or fines, if any, that may be imposed by the regulators or agencies.
We expect to incur additional costs and expenses in connection with the correction or affirmation of previously filed foreclosure paperwork and the resulting delays in foreclosures, including costs associated with the maintenance of properties while foreclosures are delayed, legal expenses associated with re-filing documents or, as necessary, re-filing foreclosure cases, and costs associated with fluctuations in home prices while foreclosures are delayed. These costs could increase depending on the length of the delay. In addition, we may incur additional costs and expenses as a result of legislative, administrative or regulatory investigations or actions relating to our foreclosure processes or with respect to the mortgage servicing industry in general. We may also see an increase in private litigation concerning our practices. However, it is not possible at this time to predict the ultimate outcome of these matters or the impact that they will have on our financial results.
Due to the significant slow-down in foreclosures, and in some instances, cessation of all foreclosure processing by numerous loan servicers, including us, for some period of time in 2011 there may be some reduction in the number of properties being marketed following foreclosure. The impact of that decrease may increase demand for properties currently on the market resulting in a stabilization of home prices but could also result in a larger number of vacant properties in communities creating downward pressure on general property values. As a result, the short term impact of the foreclosure processing delay is highly uncertain. However, the longer term impact is even more uncertain as eventually servicers will again begin to foreclose and market properties in large numbers which is likely to create a significant over-supply of housing inventory. This could lead to a significant increase in loss severity on REO properties.
The entire 10K report can be read here…
Well, that’s a pretty dramatic reversal from their stance from just a few months ago, when they said publicly that they would not suspend home seizures because they didn’t feel their procedures were compromised by so-called “robo-signers” and felonous court affidavits.
HSBC CEO Irene Dorner, October 2010: “We have looked. We don’t have robo-signers,” HSBC has not suspended foreclosures and “we don’t believe we have a reason to do so,” she said.
Now where are the damn handcuffs???