February 25, 2015

Wednesday’s Academic Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

February 25, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 24, 2015

Consumer Thoughts on Credit Reports

By David Reiss

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has issued a report, Consumer Voices on Credit Reports and Scores. This report builds on other recent work from the CFPB about how much people really understand about consumer finance. The answer — they still have a lot to brush up on. The CFPB conducted a series of focus groups about credit reports and credit scores. The CFPB concluded that

that many consumers are interested in and concerned about credit reports and scores. We found that some of the consumers we talked to expressed confusion about the best way to access credit reports and scores, what makes up credit reports and scores, and how to improve their scores. Some of the consumers we spoke to often do not feel empowered to take action to improve their credit histories, to use their credit reports and scores to negotiate better credit terms, or, ultimately, to use credit reports and scores as a helpful tool in achieving their financial goals.
The diversity of consumer perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors we heard around credit reports and scores suggests that there is much work to do in helping consumers understand and manage this complicated financial topic. Because consumers have a wide range of knowledge about and perceptions of credit reports and scores, there is no single message or approach to encourage consumers to engage more fully with their credit histories.
However, consumer perspectives on credit reports do suggest that many consumers feel that the credit reports are “hard to get, and hard to read.” Efforts by credit reporting agencies to make it easier for consumers to access and interpret their reports could be a useful contribution tohelping consumers navigate their credit histories.
The growing number of financial services companies that provide their customers with regular access to their credit scores on monthly credit card statements or online provides an opportunity to engage consumers around their credit reports. Once consumers see their credit scores, they may be motivated to learn more about their credit histories, check their full credit reports, and take action to improve their credit reports and scores. (19)
I am happy to see that the CFPB is trying to understand where consumers are at in terms of their financial literacy. This should help them to target their financial education efforts realistically. The report notes that the subject of credit reports is a complicated one. The mortgage application process is far, far more complicated so this report gives us a sense of how much work is to be done for consumers to achieve financial well-being.

February 24, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Tuesday’s Regulatory & Legislative Round-up

By Serenna McCloud

  • House of Representatives Introduced Bill H.R. 855 to Permanently Extend the New Markets Tax Credit which was designed to spur new or increased investments into operating businesses and real estate projects located in low-income communities. The NMTC Program attracts investment capital to low-income communities by permitting individual and corporate investors to receive a tax credit against their Federal income tax return in exchange for making equity investments in specialized financial institutions called Community Development Entities (CDEs).
  • Banking Regulators Seek Public Comment - The Agencies are asking the public to comment on regulations in the Banking Operations, Capital, and the Community Reinvestment Act categories to identify outdated or otherwise unnecessary regulatory requirements imposed on insured depository institutions and their regulated holding companies.

February 24, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 23, 2015

Mortgage Assignment Mayhem

By David Reiss

Judge Drain issued a biting Memorandum of Decision on Debtor’s Objection to Claim of Wells Fargo Bank, NA in the case In re Carrsow-Franklin (No. 10-20010, Jan. 29, 2015). The Court granted the debtor’s claim objection “on the basis that Wells Fargo is not the holder or owner of the note and beneficiary of the deed of trust upon which the claim is based and therefore lacks standing to assert the claim.” (1)

This blog, and many other venues, have documented the Alice in Wonderland world of mortgage assignments in which something is true because the the foreclosing party, like the Red Queen herself, says it is.

Judge Drain adds to the evidence with ALLCAPS, a touch I can’t remember seeing in another judicial opinion that I have blogged about:

Because Wells Fargo does not rely on the Assignment of Mortgage to prove its claim, the foregoing evidence is helpful to the Debtor only indirectly, insofar as it goes to show that the blank indorsement, upon which Wells Fargo is relying, was forged. Nevertheless it does show a general willingness and practice on Wells Fargo’s part to create documentary evidence, after‐the‐fact, when enforcing its claims, WHICH IS EXTRAORDINARY. (17-18, emphasis in the original, footnote omitted)

In retrospect, legal historians will be shocked by the lending industry’s practices which seemed to ignore the law in favor of convenience. MERS, and the practices which arose from it, was an attempt to circumvent clunky laws in favor of efficiency. For many years, many judges went along with this regime. Since the foreclosure crisis began, however, more and more judges are engaging in a more rigorous analysis of the documents in a particular case and the applicable law governing mortgage notes and foreclosures. When these judges find that a transaction does not comply with the relevant law, it is incumbent upon them to deny the relief sought by the foreclosing party as Judge Drain did here.

February 23, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

February 20, 2015

Reiss on Buying a Home

By David Reiss

Mainstreet.com quoted me in Potential Homeowners Should Seek Counseling Before Making First Purchase. It reads, in part,

Many consumers have made buying their first home less of a daunting task by seeking housing counseling from a non-profit organization.

In 2014, more than 73,000 people received housing counseling from the National Foundation for Credit Counseling’s member agencies, making it the highest volume experienced during the past five years. The renewed interest in housing counseling could be an indicator that many people are considering home ownership as an affordable option.

*     *     *

Homeowners should look at a range of mortgages before committing to one since the typical American homeowner moves every seven years, said David Reiss, professor of law at the Brooklyn Law School in N.Y. For example, obtaining a “relatively expensive 30-year fixed rate mortgage may not make sense,” he said, if you can save a lot in monthly payments with an adjustable rate mortgage (ARM).

ARMs have a certain period of time where the interest rate remains the same, such as 84 months for a 7/1 ARM or 120 months for a 10/1 ARM and then it adjusts each year for the remainder of the mortgage.

“This might be particularly true for very young households or for empty nesters, both of whom may have different needs in five or ten years,” Reiss said. “It is hard to predict where interest rates and prices are going, so holding off on buying when it seems like the right time to do so for your personal situation is risky.”

February 20, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments

Friday’s Government Report Roundup

By Shea Cunningham

February 20, 2015 | Permalink | No Comments