Is This Just the Tip of the Iceberg?
November 16, 2010 Leave a comment
The Congressional Oversight Panel released its November report today and it focused on the continued foreclosure crisis. The panel is calling for additional investigation by regulators and is also requesting that the U.S. Treasury provide additional evidence of their claim that the crisis has been averted. Below is an excerpt from their report as well as video commentary from the chairman of the panel, Senator Ted Kaufman.
At this point the ultimate implications remain unclear. It is possible, however, that “robo-signing” may have concealed much deeper problems in the mortgage market that could potentially threaten financial stability and undermine the government‟s efforts to mitigate the foreclosure crisis. Although it is not yet possible to determine whether such threats will materialize, the Panel urges Treasury and bank regulators to take immediate steps to understand and prepare for the potential risks.
In the best-case scenario, concerns about mortgage documentation irregularities may prove overblown. In this view, which has been embraced by the financial industry, a handful of employees failed to follow procedures in signing foreclosure-related affidavits, but the facts underlying the affidavits are demonstrably accurate. Foreclosures could proceed as soon as the invalid affidavits are replaced with properly executed paperwork.
The worst-case scenario is considerably grimmer. In this view, which has been articulated by academics and homeowner advocates, the “robo-signing” of affidavits served to cover up the fact that loan servicers cannot demonstrate the facts required to conduct a lawful foreclosure. In essence, banks may be unable to prove that they own the mortgage loans they claim to own.
Only time will tell whether the foreclosure issues are merely the tip of the iceberg. However, if the issues are real, then the financial institutions and other involved parties will be best served to proactively address the problem now rather than hoping it goes away on its own.