Weaker Reps and Warranties on the Horizon

Inside Mortgage Finance highlighted a DBRS Presale Report for J.P. Morgan Mortgage Trust, Series 2014-IV3.  This securitization contains prime jumbo ARMS, some with interest only features. So, these are not plain vanilla mortgages.

The report raises some concerns about loosening standards in the residential mortgage-backed securities market, particularly relating to standards for the representations and warranties that securitizers make to investors in the securities:

Relatively Weak Representations and Warranties Framework. Compared with other post-crisis representations and warranties frameworks, this transaction employs a relatively weak standard, which includes materiality factors, the use of knowledge qualifiers, as well as sunset provisions that allow for certain representations to expire within three to six years after the closing date. The framework is perceived by DBRS to be weak and limiting as compared with the traditional lifetime representations and warranties standard in previous DBRS-rated securitizations. (4)

 DBRS noted, however, that there were various mitigating factors.  They included:
Representations and warranties for fraud involving multiple parties that collaborated in committing fraud with respect to multiple mortgage loans will not be allowed to sunset.

Underwriting and fraud (other than the above-described fraud) representations and warranties are only allowed to sunset if certain performance tests are satisfied. . . .

Third-party due diligence was conducted on 100% of the pool with satisfactory results, which mitigates the risk of future representations and warranties violations.

Automatic reviews on certain representations are triggered on any loan that becomes 120 days delinquent, any loan that has incurred a cumulative loss or any loan for which the servicers have stopped advancing funds.

Pentalpha Surveillance LLC (Pentalpha Surveillance) acts as breach reviewer (Reviewer) required to review any triggered loans for breaches of representations and warranties in accordance with predetermined procedures and processes. . . .

Notwithstanding the above,DBRS reduced the origination scores, assigned additional penalties and adjusted certain loan attributes based on third-party due diligence results in its analysis which resulted in higher loss expectations. (4-5)
All in all, this does not sound so terrible. But it is worth noting that the tight restrictions in the jumbo RMBS market appears to be loosening up. As the market cycles from fear to greed, as it always does, it is worth keeping track of each step that it takes toward greed. We can always hope to identify early on when it has taken one step too many.

Just Shoot Me

Florida Twelfth Judicial Circuit Magistrate Bailey issued a Recommended Order in HSBC Bank USA, National Association, et al. v. Marra, No. 2008 CA 000630 NC (Aug. 14, 2013) that makes you want to give up.  Not because of the judge, but  because of what she documents in what is in all likelihood a run of the mill foreclosure in Florida.

Somewhat amazingly, the defendant was unrepresented but was able to get the Court to focus on various inconsistencies in the court filings and implausible assertions made by the Plaintiff, particularly those relating to whether the plaintiff owned and held the note and mortgage as it alleged in the complaint.

It would require about as many words to summarize the opinion as are in it, so I refer you to the link above if you want to see it in all of its glory. Let me leave you with the Court’s conclusion:

After taking into consideration the above-cited information from the [Pooling and Servicing Agreement], it appears that the transfers that have been variously asserted by the Plaintiff in several Motions and/or documents attached to those Motions as conferring standing upon it could  not possibly have occurred as the Plaintiff represents. Further, the Magistrate cannot  conceive of any manner in which the Plaintiff could possibly create additional  documentation in an effort to manufacture standing in this action. (5)

Said less politely, the Plaintiff appear to have lied to the Court or at least been unbelievably negligent in preparing its papers.  The Court also had these things to say about the Plaintiff’s filings:

  • the procedural history recounted by the Plaintiff in its Motion is inaccurate. (4)
  • it is not even likely that GreenPoint was the “owner and holder” of Marra’s loan documents at the time this case was filed in 2008, as was alleged in the original Complaint. (4)

As a law professor, I teach students about the importance of procedure to the functioning and legitimacy of our system of adjudication.  Reading cases like this, replete with a factual summary of obfuscation and possibly outright lies, I wonder what the lesson is that we should take away from the foreclosure epidemic.

One lesson is that you can say anything you want in court and you are unlikely to be punished even if you are caught.  If that is the lesson we are left with, just shoot me now.

An alternative lesson is that we should severely punish those who treat the courthouse as no better than a white-collar fight cage where trained mercenaries lord it over ill-prepared amateurs, with no holds barred. If that is the one we take, lower your gun, roll up your sleeves and start thinking about what a well-functioning judicial system would look like for unrepresented parties in civil suits, such as homeowners in foreclosure and consumers facing debt collectors.

[HT April Charney]

The Devil is in the Statute of Limitations

NY Supreme Court Justice Kornreich (N.Y. County) issued an opinion ACE Securities Corp. v. DB Structured Products Inc., No. 650980/2012 (May 13, 2013) that diverges in approach from an earlier SDNY opinion as to whether the statute of limitations runs “from the execution of the contract.” (5) The case concerns allegations that an MBS securitizer made false representations about the loans that underlay the MBS.

Kornreich held that the statute of limitations begins to run when the MBS securitizer (a Deutsche Bank affiliate) “improperly rejected the Trustee’s repurchase demand” so long as the Trustee did not “wait an unreasonable time to make the demand.” (7) (On a side note, Kornreich also held that the plaintiff in such a case is not required “to set forth which of the specific loans are affected by false” representations in a breach of contract claim. (7))

This really opens up the statute of limitations under NY law. There has been a lot of speculation that the flood of lawsuits arising from the Subprime Boom would have to come to an end because the statute of limitations covering many of the claims was six years.  A variety of developments has extended the possibility of filing a suit.  There is FIRREA‘s ten year statute of limitations. There is NY’s Martin Act, with its lengthy statutes of limitation. And now there is this expansive reading of NY’s statute of limitations for breach of contract actions.

Although one might think that all of the good cases have been filed already, you never know. And with the ACE Securities Corp. case, we can see how a case can be filed more than six years after the contract was entered into, under certain circumstances.