Feb 16

By Richard Nielson – DS News

In an effort to create a more uniform process in judicial foreclosure sales, the Kentucky Administrative Office of the Courts has amended the Rules of Administrative Procedure that govern the role and duties of the master commissioners of the circuit court.

The changes, effective as of January 1, 2016, and codified in Supreme Court of Kentucky Order 2015-25, apply to all cases and proceedings referred to the master commissioner of the circuit court. The master commissioner is a court-appointed officer whose responsibilities include conducting judicial sales of real property held to enforce judgments in mortgage foreclosure cases.

Among the changes is the adoption of statewide time frames for sales. Except in cases where property is found to be vacant and abandoned, the master commissioner is now generally required to conduct the sale within 90 days of the court’s entry of the order of sale. In addition, successful purchasers are required to pay the full purchase price within 30 days of the sale. Lastly, the master commissioner’s report of sale must be filed no later than three business days after the sale. Historically, these time frames have varied widely from county to county.

The amendments have also attempted to standardize some terms of judicial sales. With regard to the bidding process, at the time of sale the successful bidder is now required to either pay in full or make a deposit of 10 percent of the purchase price. If the purchase price is not paid in full, the successful bidder is now required to secure the unpaid balance of the purchase price by executing a bond, with sufficient surety, approved by the master commissioner prior to the sale. [read more]

Feb 12

By Ben Lane – HousingWire

A federal grand jury in Atlanta indicted two real estate investors on charges that they allegedly took part in a widespread foreclosure auction bid rigging scheme in Georgia, the Department of Justice announced this week.

According to the DOJ, Douglas Purdy was charged with one count of bid rigging and five counts of bank fraud for participating in the alleged conspiracy and scheme at Forsyth County, Georgia, foreclosure auctions from 2008 to 2012.

While Clifford Hill was charged with one count of bid rigging and seven counts of bank fraud related to public foreclosure auctions in Gwinnett County, Georgia, from 2007 to 2012.

According to the DOJ, Purdy and Hill are the 13th and 14th individuals charged in connection with its ongoing investigation into bid rigging and fraudulent schemes involving real estate foreclosure auctions in the Atlanta area.

All 12 previously charged individuals pleaded guilty. [read more]

Feb 11

By Natasha Williams – ABC22

It’s been a few months since her last terrorizing phone call.

“The man actually cursed at me over the phone like, ‘You are going to pay this money,'” said a woman we are calling Sarah to protective her identity.

“Like 3 a.m. they will keep calling, they will hang up and call right back,” she said.

Sarah is talking about debt collectors that will stop at nothing to get your attention, to scare you and to try to make you pay a bill.

“They have called my job,” said the 24-year-old mother of two young girls.

They called her day and night. She says they were driving her crazy.

“‘We are going to take your car, we are going to collect money from your job, we are going to garnish your payments,'” she said.

At the Dayton Better Business Bureau, they got about 20,000 complaints about aggressive debt collectors last year.

They say the key to ending the harassment is knowing your rights.

“They have to be direct with you, they have to give you the information. They can’t be overly aggressive, they can’t threaten to take legal action unless they are authorized and can take legal action,” said John North, president and CEO of the BBB.

“We actually had 3 million people inquiring about debt collecting agencies here at the BBB. It is so much of a problem that the government is aware of it and have created the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,” said North. [read more]

Feb 9

By Christie Smythe – Bloomberg

HSBC Holdings Plc will pay $470 million to end U.S. probes into allegations of foreclosure abuses including robo-signing that may have deprived struggling borrowers of opportunities to keep their homes.

Federal and state officials said on Friday that the bank’s North American subsidiaries reached a settlement with the U.S. Justice Department, federal housing and consumer protection regulators and 49 states as well as the District of Columbia.

The HSBC settlement paves the way for smoother loan modifications and provides for payments to some borrowers for past foreclosure abuses, according to a statement from the Justice Department. The bank will also be required to reform its practices, and an independent monitor will be installed to oversee the changes, according to the statement.

The settlement “will create tough new servicing standards that will ensure fair treatment for HSBC’s borrowers and provide relief to customers across New York state and across the country,” New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who was one of the officials involved in the accord, said in a statement. HSBC’s 136,000 loans in New York state account for more than 31 percent of the bank’s mortgage portfolio, according to Schneiderman. [read more]

Feb 3

By David Lazarus – Los Angeles Times

Suzanne Husted went through a rough patch about a decade ago and had to take out a pair of $300 payday loans to get by. She said she paid each back within a couple of months.

Now she’s getting calls from two different debt collectors insisting that $2,400 in principal and interest is owed and that she better come across with some scratch or she’ll be dragged into court.

“When I ask when I took out the loans, they say it was in 2010 and 2011, which I know didn’t happen,” Husted, 53, told me. “When I ask for statements confirming the loans, they say I can only see them after they file lawsuits against me.”

Husted said she’s started sending money to the collectors “out of fear” but wants to know if there’s a better way to handle this situation.

There is — and it begins with knowing your rights.

“Consumers have very strong rights,” said Alec Trueblood, a Los Angeles lawyer who specializes in fighting debt collectors. “There’s the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and, for Californians, there’s the state Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. Together, they provide a lot of protection.” [read more]

Feb 1

By Robert Hennelly – CBS News

With Goldman Sachs (GS) recently agreeing to pay $5.1 billion to settle claims related to its role in the 2008 mortgage scandal, the firm became the latest big Wall Street bank to reach a deal with the U.S. government. As part of the settlement, $1.8 billion is to be set aside for programs to help homeowners who are still trying to fend off foreclosure?

Yet nearly seven years since the Great Recession ended, the question remains: How well have these anti-foreclosure programs worked? It depends on whom you ask and where they live.

Back-stopping the nation’s banking system was the top federal priority during the height of the 2008 financial crisis. But out of the $475 billion that Congress authorized for the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), $46 billion was supposed to help millions of struggling families avoid foreclosure.

A subsequent 2014 settlement between prosecutors and Bank of America (BAC) netted an additional $16.6 billion, of which then-Attorney General Eric Holder said $7 billion would go to “provide relief to struggling homeowners, borrowers and communities affected by the bank’s conduct.”

All told, between the programs administered through the Treasury Department — like the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) — and the pools of money committed by Wall Street banks as part of their settlements, tens of billions of dollars have been set aside to assist families facing foreclosure by modifying their mortgage terms so they can remain in their homes. [read more]