Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Southern Essex District Registry of Deeds
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 20, 2011
John O’Brien, Register of Deeds
Southern Essex District Register of Deeds John O’Brien today is calling for a temporary halt on all foreclosures on Massachusetts homeowners until there is time to sort through the complex issues, including the fraudulent documents that have been recorded in people’s chains of title. In addition, O’Brien has cautioned people that they should think twice before buying a foreclosed property in light of the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Decision in Bevilacqua v. Rodriquez.
Although O’Brien commended the Supreme Court and Judge Long for its sound decision in the Bevilacqua Case, he recommends that any lender, servicer or foreclosure law firm be required to attest in an affidavit, under the pains and penalties of perjury, that all the paperwork involved in a foreclosure has been reviewed by someone in authority at the bank with knowledge of the transaction and that the paperwork is correct, truthful and valid. He believes that lenders should also have to prove, through a forensic audit, that they actually own the note and mortgage upon which they are foreclosing upon.
The Bevilacqua Decision makes it clear that a lender must own the mortgage before it may foreclose. “As I have said all along, had Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and others followed the law and played by the same rules as everyone else, maybe our economy would not be in this crisis today. There is a good reason that we have registries of deeds in this country. It is so that every document that pertains to a parcel of real property is recorded in a public registry, so that anyone, at any time, may view their chain of title.”
“Since the property involved in the Bevilacqua Case is in Haverhill, which is a part of my district, I have reached out to our mortgage fraud and forensic analyst, Marie McDonnell of McDonnell Property Analytics. Ms. McDonnell has certified to me that there are at least three missing assignments in the Bevilacqua chain of title, and that the one assignment which was recorded on the property is fraudulent. This clearly demonstrates the damage to a chain of title when assignments are not timely filed or not filed at all.” said O’Brien.
In calling for a halt on foreclosures, O’Brien said, “This will send a clear message that Massachusetts will not tolerate the practice of using fraudulent documents to put someone out on the street. This is something that we do not do in America. We all have to remember that foreclosures are not good for anyone; they hurt families, neighborhoods, property values and therefore communities as a whole. These big banks have played fast and loose with peoples property rights, and now courts in Massachusetts and other states are standing up and saying that what they have done is wrong. Fraudulent documents are and always should be unacceptable and never be recorded in a registry of deeds. If the average person recorded a fraudulent document and then attempted to present it to a court of law as evidence, they would be prosecuted. So it begs the question, why are the captains of the bank industry and Wall Street being treated differently? Let me make it clear that this fraudulent activity is being done by major lenders, not our local community banks. I think that the lesson here is if anyone is currently looking for a mortgage, they should be dealing with their local hometown banks who have always played by the rules.” O’Brien continued, “Perhaps if people stop buying these foreclosed properties, which in most cases sell for less than what the original homeowner owed the lender, than maybe the banks will rethink their position and do the right thing, namely begin working with homeowners to create a new payment plan that will keep people in their homes.”
In an attempt to providepeople with more assistance, O’Brien is now offering any homeowner in his district who has a document in their chain of title signed by a known robo-signer, an affidavit signed by him as Register of Deedsattesting to the presence of that signature which has been recorded at his Registry. For those homeowners that are currently being foreclosed upon, this affidavit may be presented to their attorney, the lender or the court to show that their chain of title has been corrupted. For those who are not in foreclosure, the affidavit may be presented to their current lender to show that a robo-signed document has in fact been recorded in their chain of title and be part of a request to investigate how this happened and what the lender is going to do to correct it.
Homeowners may check to see if there is a known robo-signer in their chain of title by visiting his website www.salemdeeds.com or by calling his Customer Service Department at 978-542-1704.