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Mortgage Magic or Mortgage Mayhem?

Posted by Larry Doyle on May 5th, 2009 7:02 AM |

Are the largest banks in the land ready to defy the rule of law and self-deal with Uncle Sam’s blessing in the name of providing mortgage relief to homeowners currently strapped by first and second mortgages? The WSJ reports How Big Banks Want To Game The Mortgage Mess

Is this another game of chance in which Uncle Sam wants to prime the pump in hopes of luring private capital into the economy? No, anything but. In fact, this is no game at all. Uncle Sam is proposing legislation which would protect mortgage servicers from being sued for not performing their duty to protect the property rights of mortgage investors (including pension funds, mutual funds, insurance companies). What does all this mean?

Investors in mortgage securities backed by first mortgages are entitled and expect protection of their capital by the performance of mortgage servicers handling the monthly payment of mortgage principal and interest. In fact, if the mortgage servicers do not perform the investors will and should sue. 

The investors or holders of second mortgages will only receive a return if and when the first mortgage is current on its payment.

Will Congress pass legislation which would unintentionally incentivize large banks, which also happen to be large mortgage servicers, to game the mortgage modification process for their own benefit but at the expense of investors holding the first mortgages? The WSJ highlights:

Given the current housing crisis, there is wide support for measures to make it easier for homeowners to modify their mortgages. That is understandable. Nobody likes seeing the wave of foreclosures. Plus, mortgage modifications may help stabilize home values.

But in the rush to do something, Congress is showing a regrettable willingness to adopt constitutionally suspect legislation that runs roughshod over the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution, which prohibits the taking of private property without just compensation. (more…)






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