A New Chapter M for Mortgage Bankruptcy?

by Rich Vetstein on February 2, 2011

in Bankruptcy, Foreclosure, Mortgage Crisis, Title Defects

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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