February 2011

With the proliferation of cellular/wireless service and coverage, Massachusetts town and cities have been bombarded in the last 10 years with applications for zoning relief for new cell towers and related equipment. These applications – especially in residential neighborhoods – raise the ire of local residents who don’t want cell towers in their backyards. Homeowners worry about the effect of electromagnetic frequencies on their children, aesthetics, and the impact to their property values.

Telecommunications Act of 1996

Local zoning boards’ ability to regulate cellular/wireless facilities, however, is significantly limited by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 (TCA) which provides that local zoning decisions cannot unreasonably discriminate among providers, have the effect of prohibiting service, or regulate on the basis of the effects of radio frequency emissions. The Telecommunications Act has spawned a decade’s worth of litigation in Massachusetts, with wireless servicers’ slugging percentage in the David Ortiz range.

T-Mobile Seeks To Bridge Coverage Gap

The most recent victory by the wireless industry is T-Mobile Northeast LLC v. City of Lawrence. T-Mobile sought to fill a coverage gap beset by those dreaded dropped calls in Lawrence’s Prospect Hill neighborhood by building a six foot high antennae hidden in a “stealth chimney” on top of a condominium building in a residential zone. Lawrence’s zoning ordinance bars wireless equipment in residential zones except on city-owned land, and requires a 1,000-foot setback from any residential lot. T-Mobile had previously asked the city to make municipal land available for its facility, but got no response. Having no other option, T-Mobile applied for the necessary zoning approvals and variances from the ownership and setback requirements.

Lawrence’s zoning board of appeals (ZBA) denied T-Mobile’s application, stating that it could not find sufficient facts to approve. (In other words, the majority of the board didn’t want the cell antennae at that location). At the hearing, some members of the ZBA expressed their views that the coverage gap was not real, ignoring T-Mobile’s expert, and that the antenna should go on municipal land so that the city could benefit financially. T-Mobile appealed the denial.

Federal Judge Lays The Smack-Down

The TCA provides for expedited review in federal court, another major advantage for wireless servicers which can by-pass often lengthy state superior and land court appeals. In federal court Judge Gorton pretty much eviscerated the board’s decision, as “rote” and merely parroting the relevant factors. The judge also characterized as “too little, too late” Lawrence Mayor William Lantigua’s plan to open up alternative municipally-owned sites for public bidding. The judge ordered that the permits be granted.

Lessons To Be Learned

The lesson in this case for town zoning boards is pretty simple. If you are going to deny a cell tower permit application, think twice and very hard at that. Perhaps consult town counsel before issuing a final decision, before causing your town to spend thousands on taxpayer funded legal fees with no reasonable chance of success.

Residents faced with cell towers and antennae in their neighborhoods need the assistance of an experienced Massachusetts zoning attorney who can navigate the complex TCA regulatory maze and utilize competing wireless coverage expert testimony. Upholding a denial of a cell tower appeal is very complex and challenging, but some neighborhood groups have been successful, despite the unlevel playing field of the Telecommunications Act. Check out Plymouth’s StopCenterHillTower.org for a recent example.

When I sat on the Sudbury Zoning Board of Appeals I presided over several cell tower permit applications, so I know both sides of the coin. It’s difficult, but not impossible to stop a cell tower from invading your neighborhood.

If you have any questions about Massachusetts cell tower zoning appeals, contact me, Richard D. Vetstein, Esq. via email by clicking here.


One of the most important jobs of the closing attorney during a Massachusetts refinance or purchase transaction is to fully explain the numerous closing costs that a borrower (and seller) must pay at closing. The best way to explain Massachusetts real estate closing costs in a blog post is the same way we would explain it at the closing–by reviewing the HUD-1 Settlement Statement line by line.

Prior to the closing, you should have received a Good Faith Estimate of closing costs from your lender. A good mortgage professional will always explain closing costs before you arrive at the closing table. The Good Faith Estimate or GFE will be a precursor of what you’ll be charged at closing, and certain closing costs cannot vary by more than 10% from the GFE. Bring your GFE to the closing to compare it with the HUD Settlement Statement.

HUD First Page, Borrower’s Column

We’ll use an actual HUD from a recent transaction, deleting the parties and property of course. This is a purchase for $250,000, reflected in line 101. The buyer is taking out a loan of $243,662.00 (line 202) to finance the sale. This is a FHA low down payment loan where the borrower must pay FHA mortgage insurance.

The total settlement charges, which are fully broken down on page 2 of the HUD (get to that down below), paid for by the borrower are $7,758.09, line 103. Because the closing took place on Jan. 31, in the middle of the tax fiscal quarter, real estate taxes on line 106 must be adjusted and paid for by the borrower through the end of the quarter, 3/31. As is customary in Mass., the borrower is also paying for home heating oil paid for by the seller and left in the tank (line 109–$241.20).

Line 120 tallies up the total amount due from the borrower at closing. Deducted from that number is the buyer’s deposit of $2,500 (line 201), and the buyer’s new loan of $243,662.00 (line 202). This borrower also fortunately received a seller closing cost credit of $5,708.93 (line 204) and a lender closing cost credit of $609.16 (line 205). Those credits really helped this borrower defray the closing costs.

In this transaction, there is a difference of $6,250.00 between the gross amount due from the borrower less the amounts paid by or for the borrower, which must be paid at at the closing (line 303). The borrower must bring a certified or bank check payable to himself (for fraud protection) for that amount to the closing.

Page 2 of the HUD

Page 2 of the HUD Settlement Statement itemizes all of the various closing costs, both from the borrower’s and seller sides.

Line 700 Series–Broker Commissions

In Massachusetts, the seller pays the real estate broker commission. Here, the seller is paying a total of 5% of the purchase price, or $12,500.

Line 800 Series–Lender Closing Costs

In this transaction, the lender is charging an “origination fee” of $1,735.00. This is the fee for procuring the loan. The lender has also charged the borrower for an appraisal for $425.00 but the initials “POCB” means it was paid for outside closing by the borrower. There are also small charges for a credit report and flood certification.

Line 900–Daily Interest and Mortgage insurance

The borrower is responsible for paying interest on the new mortgage loan from the closing date to the first day of the following month. That’s why most closings take place at the end of the month. The borrower is charged one day of interest of $32.54 (line 901). As this borrower is not putting 20% down, this particular loan requires mortgage insurance of $2,412.50 paid at closing by the borrower (line 902).

Line 1000–Escrow Reserves

The vast majority of mortgage lenders require borrowers to fund a real estate tax and homeowner’s insurance escrow account. Occasionally, a lender will waive the escrow for a fee or small interest rate increase. This is an aspect of closing costs that many borrowers have difficulty understanding.

The escrow account helps you and the lender anticipate and manage payment of property expenses by including these expenses as a portion of your monthly mortgage payment. Think of the escrow account as a small savings account for these expenses. An incremental amount of these expenses is added to your monthly mortgage payment, in order to cover these expenses when they are due. The lender will pay, on your behalf, the real estate taxes due on a quarterly basis, as well as the homeowner’s insurance for the following year.

Each year, your escrow account is reviewed to determine if the amount being escrowed each month is sufficient to pay for any change in your real estate taxes or homeowner’s insurance premiums. At closing, the closing attorney will collect sufficient funds to start your escrow account, typically 2-3 months worth of real estate taxes and up to a 12 months of homeowner’s insurance. In this case, the borrower must fund the escrow account with $817.12 (line 1001), which consists of 3 months of homeowner’s insurance and 2 months of real estate taxes. Remember, when you sell your home (or refinance) you will recoup your escrow account monies.

Line 1100–Title Charges

The line 1100 series shows the fees associated with the title examination, closing attorney fees and title insurance. In all transactions the lender requires the borrower to pay for lender’s title insurance and the settlement or closing fee to the closing attorney. In this transaction, the borrower has opted to purchase his own owner’s title insurance policy which protects the owner’s property and is highly recommended for many reasons. Read our post on title insurance here. So the borrower is charged $1,799.00 plus $477.50 for all the title work, closing attorney and both lender’s and owner’s title insurance premiums. The fee for reviewing and drafting the purchase and sale agreement is also included in the settlement fee on line 1102.

Line 1200–Gov’t Fees

The county registry of deeds imposes fees for the recording of the deed ($125) and mortgage ($175) which the borrower pays. The borrower also paid recording fees for an “MLC” which is a municipal lien certificate and a declaration of homestead. The seller pays the fee for the release ($75). The seller also pays a state transfer tax of $2.28 per $500.00 of value.

In Closing…

That’s basically it. Remember that closing costs differ widely between lenders, loan products, loan amounts, and closing attorneys. Make sure you ask to review the HUD Settlement Statement prior to the closing. It should be ready the day before or that day. Again, you should always speak to your mortgage professional about closing costs before you arrive at the closing table.

If you would like to speak with our office about handling your purchase or refinance transaction, please contact us at [email protected] and check out our website at www.titlehub.com. Thanks!


First the robo-signing controversy. Then the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez ruling. Now the next bombshell ruling in the foreclosure mess has just come down from a New York federal bankruptcy judge.

The case is In Re Agard (click here to download), and essentially throws a huge monkey wrench into a hugely important cog of the entire U.S. mortgage market, the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, Inc. known as MERS.

What Is MERS?

MERS, even for many seasoned real estate professionals, is the most important entity you’ve never heard of. In the mid-1990s, mortgage bankers created MERS to facilitate the complex mortgage securitization system where hundreds of thousands of mortgage loans were (and still are) packaged and bundled as securities for sale on Wall Street. Each mortgage entered into the MERS system has a unique 18 digit Mortgage Identification Number (MIN) used to track a mortgage loan throughout its life, from origination to securitization to payoff or foreclosure. The MERS system was vital to the proliferation of the $10 trillion U.S. residential securitization mortgage market.

Critics say that the decision to create MERS was driven, in large part, to avoid paying recording fees charged by county registry of deeds which required that all mortgage transfers and assignments be properly recorded and indexed in publicly available registries of deeds. Thus, MERS was designed essentially as a privately run, national registry of deeds under which MERS would act as the record “owner” and depository of all mortgages participating in the system, while the mortgage notes and loans themselves were freely bought and sold on the secondary market. About 50% of all U.S. mortgages participate in the MERS system.

The Ruling: MERS Cannot Legally Transfer & Assign Mortgages

Bankruptcy court judge Robert E. Grossman’s ruling is a bombshell and appears to be the first federal ruling holding that MERS cannot legally do what it was set up to do: transfer and assign mortgages through its electronic registry. Judge Grossman ruled that the foreclosing lender had to show that it owned both the note and the mortgage — rejecting the popular theory that the “note-follows-the-mortgage” — and there was no evidence that it held the note. “By MERS’s own account, the note in this case was transferred among its members, while the mortgage remained in MERS’s name,” Grossman wrote. “MERS admits that the very foundation of its business model as described herein requires that the note and mortgage travel on divergent paths.”

The judge found that the MERS membership agreement wasn’t enough to assign the mortgage and that to do so the lender would have to give power of attorney or similar authority to MERS. MERS’s membership rules don’t create “an agency or nominee relationship” and don’t clearly grant MERS authority to take any action with respect to mortgages, including transferring them, Grossman wrote. Because the interests at issue concern “real property” — land and buildings — under state law, any transfer has to be in writing, which isn’t done under the MERS system, he said.

The judge concluded, rather harshly, that “MERS’s position that it can be both the mortgagee and an agent of the mortgagee is absurd, at best.”

Impact of the Decision

The impact of this ruling may be quite muted. First the ruling is “dicta” which means that the ruling didn’t have much to do with the case since the judge upheld the validity of the foreclosure. Second, this ruling comes from the lowest level of the federal bankruptcy court system in New York, and will surely be appealed to a federal appeals court, and then possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court. Other courts have ruled in favor of MERS on the same issues, as well. The ruling could be overturned ultimately–if it gets there. Third, Congress and state legislatures could intervene, and bless what MERS has been doing for the past decade. The judge invited lawmakers to do just that.

Thus, it’s hard to say how much, if any, impact this ruling with have in other states or nationally. Plus, any easy fix would appear to be for MERS and its lender partners to go back, and record their mortgage assignments and pay the recording fees due.

That said, the decision definitely sends a shot across the bows of MERS and its partners (Fannie and Freddie), and should be watched closely by industry experts.

More Coverage

Wall Street Journal

Bloomberg News


A guest post by David Gaffin, Senior Mortgage Lender, from Greenpark Mortgage.

David Gaffin, Greenpark Mortgage

Since Nov. 3rd when the Federal Reserve Bank released details of QEII (Quantitative Easing II), we have seen a very rapid rise in mortgage rates. On a national basis, the Freddie Mac 30 year fixed rate has moved from 4.20% to 5.05% this week. The 10 year Treasury has risen above 3.70% and Inflation seems to be the word of this month.

Last year at this time the 10 year was at 3.73% and it hit 4.00% on April 5th. It then started a fairly rapid descent all spring and summer to its low of 2.38% on October 8th. There were several economic events that brought this about, but the question in every mortgage company’s and consumer’s mind is “Will history repeat itself this year”?

Wishful thinkers will say YES. Many think the stock market is overbought. The Mid-East and Egypt situation is still very unstable. Inflation remains low according to the FED. Unemployment is stubbornly high and the housing market is continues to be very sluggish.  Until these issues are resolved, rates cannot rise too far or consumer demand will fall and economic growth will not be sustained.

HOWEVER, there are a few wrinkles that have nothing to do with Macroeconomics that will be in play in the coming months and years.

Changes In Loan Officer Compensation

As part of the Dodd-Frank Bill, loan officers’ compensation is about to undergo a dramatic change. Loan officers will no longer be paid based on certain loan characteristics such as interest rate. The intention is to have consumers with like profiles receive the same interest rate when quoted from one loan officer to another within the same company. One the surface this makes sense. In practice, the policy is very unfriendly to the consumer, limits consumer choice, and is uncompetitive for the marketplace. Loan officers already have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients to put them in the best loan for them, while compensation to the loan officer is not a major factor. This is a higher standard than the financial planning or brokerage environment which must merely come up with a suitable product, not the best product for their clients.

The anticipated effect of this change, coupled with the reduced volume of loan transactions due to rising rates, will further increase the profit pressures on lending institutions, thereby requiring them to make their loans more profitable. This may be done through reduction of expenses and overhead (read layoffs) or higher rates to the consumer, and will eventually lead to fewer choices to the consumer as companies go out of business. The large lending institutions will then be free to control the market even more so.

Fannie/Freddie (GSE) Reform

A bigger factor is the Fannie/Freddie GSE reform now being detailed by the Treasury. This plan, which may take affect over several years, will reduce/eliminate the government’s backing of the mortgage market, except perhaps through FHA, VA and USDA loans. When the government moves to a private secondary market, those investors are going to want a greater return on their investments and rates will almost certainly rise and may do so dramatically. Less than 10 years ago 7.25% was considered a great rate!

Current programs such as a 30 year fixed rate may vanish in favor of the adjustable rate mortgages which move with the interest rate market and would be more profitable for investors. Additionally, for those programs that are somewhat or fully guaranteed by the government, I would expect the fees associated with these programs to rise substantially.

The GSE reform options include reducing the Agency Jumbo Limit to $625,000, down from $729,000 in the highest cost areas. In Massachusetts those high cost areas are Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket Islands off Cape Cod. The highest max loan amount in other counties is $523,750. Will this reduction of loan size have a big impact? I don’t think so. Current rates may be .250% to .500% higher with portfolio lenders that offer loans over these limits, but these jumbos have come way down in rate compared to the depths of the financial crisis. Most of the risk is relieved through very strict underwriting guidelines.

I have Portfolio lenders offering under 4% on ARM rates on loans to $1MM at 5 year interest only for the right borrower! While ARMs may not be the right product for everyone, they are for certain individuals and these folks are saving tremendous sums compared to where rates were just a couple of years ago.

A big concern for for future homeowners with GSE reform will be the minimum down payment requirements. There is talk that borrower’s may be required to put down 10 or 20% to qualify. Some major lenders have suggested 30%. Yeah, that’ll work…not. If that becomes the requirement you can kiss home ownership goodbye for the next generation or so, and rents will rise very rapidly.

I certainly recognize the need for GSE reform. Taxpayers have been getting killed by the losses from the mortgage giants, and the bleeding will not stop anytime soon. The plan as outlined by the Obama administration will gradually make changes to the GSEs over 5-7 years. But hopefully the market will understand what will be happening well in advance of the changes occuring.

Interest Rate Predictions For 2011 and Beyond

So what do I think? I think (unfortunately) rates will:

  • increase to 5.875%-6.125% for a 30 year fixed rate by the end of 2011;
  • increase to 6.50% by end of 2012; and
  • level out at closer to 7% by 2013.

By that time hopefully there will be a more clear path to GSE reform.

I want low rates. It’s good for my business, helps pay for my mortgage, and keeps the house heated.

All of this rate speculation, however, could be meaningless if Congress decides to finally act on the deficit. If they do, then rates could stay low for a very long period. One thing is for sure, my 3 kids are going to see a very different economic and housing landscape when they are ready to buy a home.

To see the  the full report on Reforming America’s Housing Finance Market, click here .

I welcome comments and your point of view.  I also welcome subscribers to my blog, The Massachusetts Mortgage Blog. Also check out my new Facebook page, Mortgagemania. I can be reached via email by clicking here.


I put together my first YouTube video, and thought a good topic would be the impact of the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez case on the foreclosure and REO market. The case underscores the necessity of obtaining an owner’s policy of title insurance for any REO transaction, and really any conventional transaction for that matter. Appreciate any feedback, good or bad. I’m no Ryan Seacrest obviously!


ice-dam.jpgHaving spent the entire weekend in a feeble attempt to shovel the snow and bludgeon the one foot thick ice dams off my roof, I’ve bit the bullet and hired a professional. No use risking life and limb, and doing a third rate job. I also have a nice one inch crack along my family room ceiling, no doubt caused by the huge ice damn above it.

My Facebook stream is filled with pleas from homeowners about ice dams and related winter snow and ice damage. I’m also hearing stories about price gouging on roof snow and ice removal. (According to Sudbury Realtor Gabrielle Daniels Brennan, you should be paying only between $300-$800, max.)

So, time to call in the professionals, and dust off my trusty Massachusetts homeowner’s insurance policy to see what’s covered and what’s not.

Ice Dam Insurance Coverage

Very few insurance policies cover ice dam or snow removal from your roof or anywhere else on your property for that matter. However, interior or exterior damage caused by an ice dam on your roof is typically covered. As with any insurance claim, call the claims department immediately and take photos of the damage.

Ice Dam Treatment & Prevention

In the short term, there are a couple things you can try.

  1. Try to remove snow from the roof but only if it can be done safely. A roof rake or push broom can be used but may cause damage to the shingles. If it’s not possible to remove the snow safely, call a professional like I did.
  2. Chisel grooves into the dam to allow the water behind it to drain off. This is a good emergency measure, especially if rain or a sudden thaw is coming. Be careful not to damage those shingles!
  3. Fill an old pair of your wife’s pantyhose with calcium chloride snow melt and lay it across the dam. I’m not kidding! I did this over the weekend and it seemed to work. It will help to melt the dam and also keep that area of the roof clear. DO NOT USE ROCK SALT! It will stain the roof and siding. It is best for small dams or prevention. It’s also a good idea to scrape the snow off the roof first.

To prevent ice dams in the longer term, keeping warm air from escaping into the attic is the first course of action. In addition to helping resolve ice dam issues, it will result in a more comfortable and less expensive to heat home.

Frozen Pipes Insurance Coverage

Not all companies pay to have frozen pipes thawed by professionals. Some will though. Most policies cover pipe replacement and water damage. The coverage may not apply if you turned the furnace off for the winter without winterizing the house and its contents.

Frozen Pipe Prevention

Frozen water in pipes can cause water pressure buildup between the ice blockage and the closed faucet at the end of a pipe which leads to pipes bursting at their weakest point. Pipes in attics, crawl spaces and outside walls are particularly vulnerable to freezing in extremely cold weather. Holes in outside walls for TV, cable or telephone lines allow cold air to enter the house.

To keep water in the pipes from freezing, take the following precautions:

Fit exposed pipes with insulation sleeves or wrapping to slow the heat transfer. The more insulation the better.

Seal cracks and holes in outside walls and foundations near water pipes with caulking.

Keep cabinet doors open during cold spells to allow warm air to circulate around pipes, particularly in the kitchen and bathroom.

Keep a slow trickle of water flowing through faucets connected to pipes that run through and unheated or unprotected space. Drain the water system especially if your house will be unattended during cold periods.

Interruption of Services

If you lose power during a storm, an all-risk homeowner’s policy usually pays for spoiled food, repairs to damage caused by loss of power, and appliances damaged by the outage. Many policies also will pay for shelter when you lose power for extended periods during the winter. If you lose heat and fail to take steps to prevent pipes from freezing, your policy may not cover the resulting damage.

Additional Resources

Nadine Heaps, Purple Ink Insurance. Nadine is an experienced homeowner’s insurance agent who can answer your questions on coverages.

I’ll Be (Ice) Dammed, The Massachusetts Mortgage Blog by David Gaffin


I am honored to be a panelist — along with the lawyers who prevailed in the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez case –in an upcoming online seminar on February 12 and 15. Here are the details:

The Massachusetts Ibanez Decision:
The Ruling and its Implications for the Industry, the Practitioner and the Consumer

Saturday, February 12th, 2011
12:00 PM Eastern Time
and Tuesday, February 15th, 2011
8:00 PM Eastern Time

Hear from the attorneys and experts directly involved in the recent landmark Massachusetts Supreme
Judicial Court decision that shook up the foreclosure defense landscape.

A virtual panel discussion followed by audience Q&A.

O. Max Gardner III
O. Max Gardner III

Max is recognized as one of the leading lawyers in America in the area of Predatory Mortgage Servicing and the standing of Mortgage Servicers in consumer bankruptcy cases. His position on the front lines of the war against predatory lenders and mortgage servicers has captured the attention of ABC News Nightline, CNN, Business Week, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other news outlets across the country.

**Only participating in the event on Saturday, February 12 at 12:00 PM EST
Marie McDonnell
Marie McDonnell

Marie McDonnell is the President of McDonnell Property Analytics, Inc., a foreclosure defense training and support services company. Her Amicus Brief is widely cited as a key factor in the Ibanez decision. Marie has been a nationally recognized mortgage auditing and forensics expert since 1987.

Jamie Ranney
Jamie Ranney

Jamie is one of the leading foreclosure defense lawyers in Massachusetts, with a current caseload of approximately 85 cases. He has worked closely with Glenn F. Russell, Jr., and Thomas B. Vawter to develop innovative foreclosure defense strategies, including challenging a foreclosing bank’s standing in Servicemembers cases in the Massachusetts Land Court and in raising standing challenges to post-foreclosure evictions.

Glenn Russell
Glenn F. Russell, Jr.

Glenn is a solo practitioner based in Fall River, Massachusetts, whose practice is 100% devoted to the defense of mortgage foreclosure. Attorney Russell represented Mark and Tammy LaRace in the recent Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruling in U.S. Bank v. Ibanez.

Richard D. Vetstein, Esq

Richard D. Vetstein, Esq. is the creator and principal author of the Massachusetts Real Estate Law Blog. Rich is a nationally recognized real estate attorney, having written extensively on real estate legal issues and been featured or quoted by the Boston Globe, Bloomberg News, Financial Times, Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, and Banker & Tradesman. Rich was recently selected as one of Inman News’ Top 100 Most Influential in Real Estate.

**Only participating in the event on Tuesday, February 15 at 8:00 PM EST

Click Here for the Registration Page

This should be a fantastic panel discussion for anyone who is interested in the impact of the U.S. Bank v. Ibanez decision.

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I recently came across a very provocative and interesting idea to address the foreclosure and bankruptcy crisis: a new Chapter M for Mortgage bankruptcy. As described on FireDogLake:

“Prof. Adam Levitin has proposed this with his Chapter M for Mortgage bankruptcy. It would remove foreclosure actions from state court to federal bankruptcy court. Successful petitions can be offered a standardized pre-packaged bankruptcy plan. The plan would be based on HAMP modification guidelines (interest rate reduction to achieve 31% DTI goal, but without federal funding) plus cramdown to address negative equity.

We can make this fair on the backend. If the homeowner redefaults we can speed up the foreclosure process. It wouldn’t affect non-mortgage lenders. It is fast-tracked relative to traditional Chapter 13. It can have clawback mechanisms to address potential future appreciation.

And going through the process can give the lender clean title. Because there’s this whole issue of who owns what in the securitization chain which is a few court cases away from putting our financial system over a cliff. And the best feature is that it has no cost to the federal government. Like other smart policy, it builds off already existing infrastructure, so it can be started immediately using existing courts and Chapter 7 panel trustees for sales.”

Any solution which can simultaneously address banks’ unwillingness to offer loan modifications to otherwise qualified distressed homeowners and the litany of title problems created in the wake of cases like U.S. Bank v. Ibanez should be seriously considered. The recent foreclosure legislation proposed by Secretary of State Bill Galvin and Attorney General Martha Coakley contains mandates following these ideas. Galvin’s would create a special court to deal with Ibanez issues, and Coakley’s requires loan modifications for certain sub-prime loans before foreclosure.

We certainly need out of the box thinking to deal with these problems. What are your thoughts?

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