Real Estate News
Big bad banks and foreclosure
Published Thursday, 07-Oct-2010 in issue 1189
A teeny bit of prime Palm Springs real estate became the proud recipient of a “star” bearing the name of Carol Channing this past Saturday. ARG Abbott Realty Group Realtor Dan Larson and husband Nick Weitzel arranged for a group of us including Dan’s mom Lily to be present when Channing showed up to accept the accolade for her contributions to the arts. She showed up in a white Rolls Royce with husband Harry Kullijian and a crowd of several hundred that backed up cars on Palm Canyon Drive for a half-mile. Carol can still stop traffic! Channing who looked amazing in her silver au-natural coif broke into song as she made a pitch for expanded (hell, hows’about some?) arts programs in our public schools. She could not have been nicer -taking time to thank everyone present- and by the looks of the crowd, the GLBT community takes very good care of its divas.
Late last week Bank of America and JP Morgan Chase joined Ally Financial/GMAC in a forced halt to foreclosures until internal processes are reviewed. Bank employees confessed that upwards of 10,000 foreclosure documents per month were routinely signed by a single person at Chase (In the 23 states that mandate judicial foreclosures, the trustee signing these documents must have “personal knowledge” of the circumstances surrounding each foreclosure. Pretty hard to be up close and personal with 10,000 distressed borrowers each month.)
California is a non-judicial foreclosure state meaning lenders need not go to court to repossess property; however, similar requirements for accuracy must be followed. In our office, it is the exception rather than the rule that our clients’ homes have proper procedures followed by foreclosing lenders. But, as borrowers have caught Big Bad Banking breaking the law and in turn cried “Foul!” the average time to resolve a property has risen well above 400 days nationally.
We should not find this surprising given that the same Big Bad Banks that created the sub-prime loan, the option-ARM, and then went on to deceive investors about the quality of their mortgage-backed securities; might now follow due process in taking these properties back. We are naive if we think these organizations will behave any better now than they have in the past. My advice is simple. Demand all communications in writing and respond in kind. Keep all records. Request the original note in deed of trust be produced for your viewing and don’t give up your home without a fight.
Experts are divided on the value of further slowing the foreclosure process. An excellent argument can be made that the best thing for the housing industry would be to unload the millions of distressed properties immediately and let the free market work through all the tsouris now. Of course, few of these experts are faced with losing their own homes. Had American taxpayers told Chase, Citibank, B of A and Wells Fargo to just “walk it off” when they were circling the drain in late 2008 there’d be a whole lot of bank execs with squeegees in Times Square today....ah, if only...
Speaking of Wells Fargo -the only Big Bank headquartered in California- it has decided to buck the due-process trend saying in effect, “Damn the torpedoes!” and that it will not delay foreclosure sales. Usually considered the “worst of the worst” for loan modifications, Wells added it won’t grant extensions of escrow on short sales. Watch for courts packed with new lawsuits when Wells’ own mishandling of the short sale process stands accused as the major cause of delays. (Remember, Wells Fargo was the bank that rushed to foreclose on a Malibu home so that one of its executives could throw lavish parties in the place. Classy...)
Apparently, Wells didn’t get the memo from the U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency which announced it had stationed government auditors at Wells Fargo offices along with those of HSBC, PNC Bank, Bank of America, Citibank, US Bank and Chase. Why? Foreclosure irregularities, of course. BTW, our research continues on which San Diego elected officials take big money from big banks.....stay tuned.
The View’s The Thing.....Gina Barnes and Ken Tablang from Ascent Real Estate (2 of the very best Realtors in our area) tipped me off to this incredible Bankers Hill penthouse at Park Central Towers. Price slashed by $300K to $1.575M with nearly 3000 square feet and upgrades far better than most brand new luxury units. Truly, a view unmatched by anything else in the Metro area and complete with home theatre, party-sized master shower and generous outdoor space. Like living at Mr. A’s, but without the constant tipping! See photos/get more info at kengina.com