So where does the Multi-State Settlement (“MSS”) leave Nevadans? Essentially, in a slightly better position IF, and only IF, we manage our expectations, pay attention and do our homework. If we do these things we may be able to collect all the money allocated to us, pursue the “banksters” criminally and pursue our individual remedies under state and Federal laws. To begin you must do the following:
Determine who owned/owns the Note.
It is expected to take somewhere between 60 and 90 days to set up the MSS infrastructure and to commence delivery of the forms associated with the “opt-in” portion of the program. During that time, borrowers who were foreclosed upon, still making payments or are still in default should take measures to determine who owned, claims to own or currently owns their note. They can do this by searching the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac websites, sending out a Truth-in-Lending letter and contacting the servicer related to their loan. There is generally a service number located on all mortgage invoices. Nevada is not a “show me the note” state. We do require that claimant lenders can produce proof of the right to collect on the Note. However, they are NOT required to produce the actual note. A certified copy thereof will do. Accordingly, you will want to look at who is making those certifications. Check the endorsements on the note, to whom the note is endorsed (this is a technical bearer/order distinction that may be important to a lawyer) and the manner in which the note was endorsed – on the note itself or by a separate paper. All of these things matter and may be changed or altered by the Bank or other party at a later date. Gathering them NOW is important and prudent.
Determine who owned/owns the Deed of Trust.
In addition to researching the note the borrower should determine who is or has foreclosed upon (all that apply) their Deed of Trust. In a series of opinions regarding mediation and transfer of beneficial interest in Notes and Deeds of Trust the Nevada Supreme Court has given very clear instructions on how and what constitutes a proper transfer of the Deed of Trust. Therefore, Borrowers should endeavor to ensure that any claimed creditor pursuing them under a Deed of Trust has the proper documentation to support its claims. Borrowers can research this information by sending a TILA letter, researching their MERS MIN number or looking through public notices and recorded documents. Deeds of Trust should be transferred by assignment. The date of the transfer in relation to other occurrences such as the commencement of the foreclosure process and filings by trustees can have a big impact on whether or not the foreclosure was done properly and by the proper party.
Review the County Recorder’s page and your title chain.
Nevadans should also review the Recorder’s page on their past, present and future properties. Oftentimes, you can collect information regarding transfers, find robo-signers, false dates, false names and botched documents in the public record. Singularly and in the aggregate, these types of facts can add up to leverage in a short sale, decrease in a deficiency or a lawsuit under various Federal and state laws. Moreover, look at the trustee’s deeds to determine if the property has been foreclosed upon. Make sure the listed beneficiary matches those in the chain. Notably, a recent Massachusetts Supreme Court denied a quiet title claim of a purchaser at a botched foreclosure. Examining these records closely when seeking to purchase a property may avoid title issues in the future.
Review your mortgage statements, credit reports and other records.
There are many Federal and state protections for borrowers who have been subjected to misapplied mortgage payments, false credit reports, force placed insurance, doubled fees (such as BPO charges or “site inspections”) and bogus charges. Look at your statements as suspect. Even small accounting errors can garner decent statutory fines in your favor. You can order an accounting of these things by sending a Qualified Written Request to your lender or servicer. You are also required to have received notice ANYTIME your mortgage was transferred. This notice is to have been provided within 30 days of the transfer. You may have a fine waiting for you to collect if you did NOT get it, like many other little known statutes.
Read, read, read!
The big secret is that people, including banks, do not read their documents. Before you sign, look for waivers and releases in EVERYTHING and understand what they mean even if you have to see an attorney. Read the small print, large print, things in boxes and regular paragraphs. Determine who the parties are and the obligations of each. Think of the worst case scenario and make sure the document addresses what would happen in that event. Look for the small charges that will be taken from you such as processing charges, documentation charges, copy costs, interest for no reason, penalties that are not penalties, pencil sharpening, etc. and know when they will be allocated. You are your own watch dog. If it looks strange, sounds funny or gives you a “gut-check,” look into it. If you are not certain, find COMPETENT people to assist you based on sound in-person referrals, not a suggestion from a stranger, the internet or a flashing advertisement.
Pay attention regardless of whether you paid your mortgage. Research the MSS, opt-in if you qualify, know who your lender is and the programs they offer. Investigate your property, examine your title and know your rights. If someone or some company owes you a deadline, make sure you remind them the DAY it is late. Be timely yourself. Follow the directions and keep copies of everything, including whom you talked to, when and if they called you or you called them. This is, in large part, a game of attrition. Know what to expect and ensure that the people you rely on professionally and politically act and vote appropriately.
Finally, manage your expectations.
Steel yourself to the fact that you must make an effort. There are no silver bullets. This is not an era where one can rely on others for good advice, clear direction or protection. Above all else, hold on because this ride is nowhere near over and the rules to this game seem to change every day.