Right now, in the 4th Quarter of 2013, the three branches of Florida government are working closely with national banks, foreign banks and the federal government to take homes from Floridians and then turn those homes over to the banks, to the federal government and ultimately to…….? Well, we have no real idea who these homes are being turned over to. But one thing is certain. The homes that Florida courts are working to take from individuals are not returning to ownership of individuals.
The truly terrifying reality is we really have no real information on who is the ultimate beneficiary of this unprecedented government and corporate sector effort.
The scary thing about this effort is one of the key foundations of American legal, social and economic policy… private ownership of property… is being destroyed, decimated, obliterated….and no one in public policy circles is examining exactly what is occurring and they clearly are not examining the long term impact of this extraordinary change not just in public policy but this unprecedented change in the key foundation of American social and public policy. It undisputed that for decades both parties at the federal, state and local levels and nearly all public policy and economic apparatchik agreed on one thing:
Support and Promote The Private Ownership of Homes
This decades of public policy is reflected in all the institutions, programs and policies built up around this undisputed goal of American public policy. Woven throughout the federal tax code are preferences for families and individuals at all income levels to own and maintain property. Banking and finance regulations all supported aggressive lending and favorable treatment of loans carried in support of private ownership. Likewise, preferences for private ownership of property is woven throughout all of Florida law…probate, family law, taxing, creditor claims. Homesteads pass cleanly through probate, decisions about custody in family law cases are tied to homestead, homesteads have preferential tax treatment, homesteads are exempt from creditor claims. These policies are woven throughout all of Florida’s decisional law. They are prominent in Florida’s statutes. They are even prominent in Florida’s Constitution.
Despite The Fact That Generations of Florida’s Policymakers Supported Private Property Rights And Homestead, Florida Homestead Preference Is Being Decimated Today
I have spent weeks examining the records that are purging out of Florida courts as part of the unprecedented effort between the federal government, the Florida Executive, Legislative and Executive Branches. The data is quite frankly terrifying. It’s terrifying because the impact of this effort has such profound societal and public policy consequences, but no one. No one. No one is considering those impacts. Instead, Florida courts were given an explicit mandate by the legislative and executive branches:
CLEAR THE FORECLOSURE BACKLOG….NOW!
The other branches didn’t just thrust this mandate upon our courts, they cajoled, they extorted, they bribed the judicial branch. First, the legislative branch passed the new Finality of Foreclosure law…all Final Judgments of Foreclosure are Final. A judge cannot undo any mistake he might make. Next, the executive branch handed out money, with strings very much attached, with the sole stated goal to:
CLEAR THE FORECLOSURE BACKLOG…NOW!
All of this operates under the rubric of the Uniform Foreclosure Backlog Project, a data and results driven program. Quite extraordinary that perhaps the biggest shift in public policy is occurring in Florida even as we speak, with no consideration of the long term implications.
Let me make clear (once again) the federal interaction here. The nation’s banks engaged in an unprecedented crime spree. The stole untold billions from the federal government. They stole untold billions from you and I, the taxpayers. This is the part of the National Mortgage Settlement, that everyone ignores. The nation’s banks filed billions of dollar of False Insurance Claims. The nation’s banks filed billions of dollars in False Insurance Claims. The nation’s banks filed billions of dollars in False Insurance Claims.
The Banks Stole Billions of Dollars But Apparently, Not A Single Public Official Has Actually Read The National Mortgage Settlement Complaint
I say that no public official has actually read this because I’ve never heard anyone actually talking about the lack of consequences for these banks for this crime spree. All you ever here is the headline, “Banks Reach Record Settlement”. No. Wrong. Misleading Headline. There was nothing extraordinary about this settlement at all. In fact it represents the very worst aspects of America today…the undeniable fact that banks get away with looting the American people and are rewarded with pulling off an unprecedented crime spree. Here are the details that everyone misses:
Bank of America is a supervised FHA direct endorsement lender that can originate, sponsor, and service FHA-insured loans. During Federal fiscal years 2009 and 2010, it submitted 36,095 FHA claims totaling $5 billion.
VIOLATIONS OF THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT,
31 U.S.C. § 3729(a)(1)(A), (a)(1)(B), (a)(1)(C) and (a)(1)(G) (2009),
and 31 U.S.C. §3729(a)(1), (a)(2), (a)(3) and (a)(7) (1986)
the Banks knowingly
presented or caused to be presented to the United States false or fraudulent claims
for payment or approval, including but not limited to improper claims for
payment of FHA residential mortgage insurance or guarantees.
possessed actual knowledge that the claims for payment were false or fraudulent;
acted in deliberate ignorance of the truth or falsity of the claims for payment; or
acted in reckless disregard of the truth or falsity of the claims for payment.
It’s not just BofA…this was the industry standard. What’s most infuriating to me about these audit reports is how the banks are permitted to tell federal investigators
“Screw off..we’re not going to participate with your silly little investigation. Put your badges away. Go Home. You’re not talking to our employees and we’re not providing you with information. We stole billions and we don’t care if you don’t like it. Go. Away.”
No really. They did. That’s what Bank of America really did when the federal agents came knocking on their door to investigate the blatant theft of billions of taxpayer dollars. From the report:
“From the beginning, Bank of America limited our access to employees and information.”
“Our review was significantly hindered by Bank of America’s reluctance to allow us to interview employees.”
“On a number of occasions, Bank of America’s attorneys refused to allow employees to answer questions, stopped them in the middle of clarifying information, or counseled them in private before allowing them to provide a response.”
“Although we repeatedly requested policies and procedures….Bank of America would only provide (limited info)”
Okay, so I veered off here a bit. Back to Florida and how all of this works to throw families out of their homes and turn those homes over to unknown parties. After the banks get caught stealing billions, they agree to give a few dollars of what they stole back. This return of stolen money is known as the National Mortgage Settlement. Part of the money that was supposed to be used to “help” Florida families was instead funneled directly to Florida courts which are being used to “help” the banks take property back. Senior judges have been drafted into service at the rate of $350/day and they are churning out Final Judgments of Foreclosure at breakneck pace….just churning out Final Judgments of Foreclosure. I’m reviewing thousands of final judgments and I’m most disturbed to see how many of those judgements are entered with very problematic issues revealed in the docket…changing plaintiff name, “correcting” legal descriptions, “amending” the name of the plaintiff. I sit in court every day and I watch such horrifying things happen….
YOUR HONOR, WE SWORE UNDER OATH FOR THREE YEARS THAT WELLS FARGO HAD THE RIGHT TO FORECLOSE, BUT WHOOPSIE, WE MEANT BANK OF ‘MURICA HAD THE RIGHT TO FORECLOSE ALL ALONG
YOUR HONOR, WE SWORE UNDER OATH FOR THREE YEARS THAT WE ARE FORECLOSING ON 101 MAIN STREET, BUT WHOOPSIE, WE MEANT TO FORECLOSE ON 102 MAINSTREET ALL ALONG
But here comes the big thing that no one is paying any attention to. Florida’s courts are busy churning out judgments, but the allegedly public foreclosure process is being scammed, controlled, manipulated in ways that everyone refuses to examine or consider the real implications.
Why are the banks taking these properties back rather than letting these homes enter the private marketplace?
In Pinellas County, there were 780 foreclosure auctions scheduled in October 2013. Of those, 279 were cancelled, only 85 were sold to third party bidders, but the largest number….416 were sold back to the banks that were foreclosing in the first place. (see here)
In the title of this post I asserted that Floridians were being pushed out of homes and that those homes were being given to the federal government and unknown parties. The basis for this is the recognition that “The banks” do not own the mortgages that are being foreclosed on. The mortgages and thus ultimately the homes are owned by Fannie/Freddie and domestic and foreign trusts. These entities ultimately take title to these properties but we really have no good information on what is ultimately happening to these homes.
In the middle of this mad rush to foreclose, we all need to consider why we’re spending hundreds of millions of dollars to return the homes of Florida’s citizens to the banks.
A few related issues that also need to be considered:
1. New Dodd Frank Regulations that grind to a halt new mortgage applications.
2. Expiration of the short sale tax liability exemption.
3. Florida Association of Realtors reports a nearly 40% decline in short sales.
4. Elimination of mortgage loan processor jobs across the country.
5. Biggert Waters Flood Act devastating property values.