Utility Issues with Rental Properties, by Troy Rappold, Rappold Property Management


When a rental property that is occupied by a tenant is sold to a new owner there are many details that require diligent attention. One of these areas is the utility billing and interim billing. Interim billing is one of the first things that you would want to cancel because an Owner doesn’t want to accidently pay for bill that isn’t their responsibility. This ensures proper and accurate billing. As a general rule, the tenant is responsible for all utilities for a single family home. In this case nothing changes if ownership changes and the tenant stays in place.  If the house is located in a city where the population is over 100K, the owner is responsible for the garbage service. In this case, the garbage bill is changed to the name of the new Owner.

 

As a local property management company, we have the garbage bills mailed to our office and we pay it out of the rental income on behalf of the owner. That way the charge will be reflected on the monthly statement. This is important because this expense is a tax write-off for the home owner. If the new Owner is going to move into the property, and the tenant is going to move out, then all utilities will be a prorated amount based upon the move out date of the tenant. If the tenant moves out on the 18th of the month, then they are responsible for 18 days’ worth of electricity, water, sewer, garbage and natural gas. As the property management company for the house, we track this and make sure all these charges are distributed correctly.

 

We also manage condominiums and often times the owner/investor will pay the Condo Association fees that include water, sewer and garbage. These charges are also a tax write off and can be tracked for the year. Although none of this is difficult to manage, it does need to be watched carefully so all parties involved pay only their share. This careful attention to detail is what we do here at Rappold Property Management.

 

Rappold Property Management, LLC

1125 SE Madison Street, suite #201

Portland, OR 97214

Phone: 503-232-5990

Fax: 503-232-1462

Landlords: Renters That Smoke, by Troy Rappold, Rappold Property Management, LLC


The ability to smoke in public and at apartment communities has been under attack for years. But what about rental homes? Often times an owner plans to rent their home for only a year or two. Certainly the owner does not want to receive the house back with the smell of cigarette smoke still lingering in the house. Even if the renter was a model tenant in all other respects, cigarette smoke can be very destructive. Smoking turns walls yellow (new paint job $1,200), it destroys carpets ($1,500), and it requires a deeper cleaning, perhaps with a deionizer ($500). The cost of all this stress…priceless.

The best approach? In all of our homes we have a no smoking policy. However, we do allow the renter to smoke outside, perhaps on the porch or deck. However, this issue can be a hard one to enforce. What if it’s cold outside? Who wants to stand outside when it’s only 35 degrees? The renter is easily tempted to stand inside the house or close to an open window and light up. Inevitably, smoke gets in the house and the home owner smells the evidence. A good suggestion is to do an inspection within the first month or two of a new lease if you know the renter smokes. Catch the problem early. Then do another inspection a few months later to make sure. If you detect smoke after the tenant moves out, a landlord can charge the tenant for the remediation of the smell. But this can be a tricky proposition. It is always best to be pro-active and keep this issue from becoming a possible expense.  It is less ideal to react and pursue a vacating tenant for money.

You can always call Rappold Property Management with questions about your single family home investment.

Troy Rappold
Rappold Property Management, LLC
1125 SE Madison Street, suite #201
Portland, OR  97214

Phone: 503-232-5990
Fax: 503-232-1462

 

4 Tips On Giving Your Mudroom A Makeover, by Steph Noble, Northwest Mortgage Group


4_Tips_On_Giving_Your_Mudroom_A_Makeover

From crunched-up leaves stuck to bottoms of shoes to bulky coats shed as soon as kids walk through the door, mudrooms are ideal for keeping outdoor dirt, wet clothing and outerwear from being strewn throughout your home.

Mudrooms not only keep the rest of your house clean, but they also designate a spot for those last-minute grabs, such as coats, umbrellas and purses, when you’re running out the door.

These rooms are great catchalls. However, an organized mudroom can make your life and those hectic mornings much less stressful. Below are smart tips for getting your mudroom ready this fall.

1. Put In Seating

After shedding outer layers, the next thing anyone wants to do after coming inside on a cold, wet day is to take off their mucky shoes. So make sure there is a built-in bench or convenient chair for people to sit down and tend to their tootsies. Whether taking off or putting on shoes, it makes life a little more comfortable.

2. Install A Sink

A mudroom is supposed to be the catchall for everything dirty from the outdoors. With this in mind, a sink for washing off the grime and mud makes sense. Then you can clean your clothing in the contained space without having to haul them to the kitchen sink or laundry room.

3. Create Cubbies

Even though this space is designated as a drop-off point before entering the main living space, you don’t want everything just thrown into one big confusing pile. Create individual cubbies for every person in your household. Each cubby should contain a shelf for purses and backpacks, hooks for coats and a low place for shoes.

4. Splurge On A Boot Warmer

While electric boot warmers can be a little expensive, you will definitely think it’s worth the money when it’s freezing outside and your shoes are damp. Electric boot warmers heat your shoes on pegs and dry them out at the same time. They also work well on gloves.

Fall is a mudroom’s busy season; so get it in shape with the tips above. With all the coats hanging on their hooks, shoes in their cubbies and dirt contained to this designated space, your life will be a little more organized and much less stressful!

 

 

 

Steph Noble
Northwest Mortgage Group
(503) 528-9800
http://www.stephnoble.com
http://www.nwmortgagegoup.com

 

 

Asking Prices and Inventory for Homes in Portland Oregon June 3rd 2013


As of June 03 2013 there were about 8,714 single family and condo homes listed for sale in Portland Oregon. The median asking price of these homes was approximately $285,077. Since this time last year, the inventory of homes for sale has decreased by 23.4% and the median price has increased by 10.1%.

June 03, 2013 Month/Month Year/Year
Median Asking Price $285,077 +1.8% +10.1%
Home Listings/Inventory 8,714 +3.5% -23.4%

Recent Asking Price and Inventory History for Portland

Date Single Family & Condo
Inventory
25th Percentile
Asking Price
Median
Asking Price
75th Percentile
Asking Price
06/03/2013 8,714 $199,000 $285,077 $449,900
05/27/2013 8,631 $197,700 $285,000 $449,000
05/20/2013 8,597 $195,000 $282,500 $441,100
05/13/2013 8,460 $194,950 $280,000 $448,500
05/06/2013 8,420 $191,900 $279,900 $449,000

Portland Asking Price History

The median asking price for homes in Portland peaked in April 2007 at $354,740 and is now $69,663 (19.6%) lower. From a low of $239,125 in February 2011, the median asking price in Portland has increased by $45,952 (19.2%).

25th, Median (50th) and 75th Percentile Asking Prices for Portland Oregon

Portland Housing Inventory History

Housing inventory in Portland, which is typically highest in the spring/summer and lowest in the fall/winter, peaked at 23,354 in July 2008. The lowest housing inventory level seen was 7,969 in March 2013.

Housing Inventory for Portland Oregon

Portland Asking Price and Inventory History

Date Single Family & Condo
Inventory
25th Percentile
Asking Price
Median
Asking Price
75th Percentile
Asking Price
June 2013 8,714 $199,000 $285,077 $449,900
May 2013 8,527 $194,888 $281,850 $446,900
April 2013 8,075 $186,800 $274,540 $439,060
March 2013 7,969 $182,923 $267,425 $427,213
February 2013 7,981 $179,900 $262,450 $419,731
January 2013 8,250 $179,075 $259,217 $404,725
December 2012 8,627 $178,900 $259,720 $405,750
November 2012 9,408 $179,675 $260,950 $408,963
October 2012 10,259 $179,900 $267,160 $418,600
September 2012 10,828 $179,900 $268,975 $418,450
August 2012 11,102 $179,675 $268,725 $418,500
July 2012 11,140 $177,600 $266,598 $411,651
June 2012 11,362 $174,825 $259,675 $399,950
May 2012 11,227 $169,713 $252,463 $399,450
April 2012 10,820 $169,160 $249,910 $397,940
March 2012 9,683 $174,450 $259,450 $406,225
February 2012 10,549 $169,225 $248,250 $388,025
January 2012 10,833 $169,080 $246,960 $381,960
December 2011 11,461 $169,925 $248,375 $385,675
November 2011 12,018 $174,750 $250,972 $397,425
October 2011 12,846 $179,530 $258,720 $399,900
September 2011 13,509 $179,939 $259,900 $399,900
August 2011 14,672 $179,360 $256,590 $395,540
July 2011 14,772 $178,150 $253,188 $389,225
June 2011 14,762 $176,475 $250,970 $386,970
May 2011 14,582 $173,184 $249,160 $375,780
April 2011 14,748 $169,950 $242,400 $364,975
March 2011 15,458 $169,800 $239,675 $359,575
February 2011 15,531 $169,675 $239,125 $354,725
January 2011 15,001 $170,760 $239,158 $356,380
December 2010 16,118 $176,200 $242,700 $363,363
November 2010 17,018 $180,160 $249,330 $373,780
October 2010 17,614 $184,975 $253,375 $381,975
September 2010 18,282 $189,100 $258,925 $390,950
August 2010 18,579 $190,940 $261,150 $397,160
July 2010 18,160 $195,163 $267,475 $399,000
June 2010 17,488 $196,853 $268,875 $399,800
May 2010 17,035 $198,880 $269,620 $399,818
April 2010 17,279 $198,000 $266,750 $392,500
March 2010 16,495 $195,600 $264,460 $393,960
February 2010 15,382 $194,938 $264,450 $395,198
January 2010 14,895 $197,819 $267,425 $399,225
December 2009 15,329 $199,897 $272,038 $402,212
November 2009 15,902 $202,750 $277,760 $417,780
October 2009 16,573 $209,675 $283,646 $428,225
September 2009 17,165 $210,000 $289,475 $436,100
August 2009 17,595 $211,760 $292,880 $444,320
July 2009 17,819 $212,950 $294,950 $449,000
June 2009 17,870 $213,460 $294,920 $449,100
May 2009 17,713 $211,475 $293,291 $445,250
April 2009 17,978 $212,525 $289,925 $444,725
March 2009 18,506 $214,153 $289,930 $443,360
February 2009 18,449 $216,014 $293,968 $448,125
January 2009 18,872 $219,952 $297,855 $452,809
December 2008 19,842 $223,220 $302,773 $458,508
November 2008 20,983 $226,382 $307,532 $464,024
October 2008 22,086 $229,650 $312,450 $469,724
September 2008 22,973 $233,730 $319,580 $474,990
August 2008 23,314 $235,200 $322,000 $475,725
July 2008 23,354 $236,074 $324,550 $475,000
June 2008 22,657 $239,150 $324,920 $479,459
May 2008 21,505 $239,900 $325,000 $480,947
April 2008 20,669 $239,900 $324,937 $479,912
March 2008 19,381 $241,300 $324,860 $485,960
February 2008 18,409 $240,485 $324,925 $479,912
January 2008 17,659 $243,500 $324,962 $481,765
December 2007 18,584 $245,120 $327,975 $489,355
November 2007 19,926 $248,665 $330,475 $486,425
October 2007 20,762 $249,950 $337,260 $493,980
September 2007 20,656 $253,425 $339,900 $497,749
August 2007 19,837 $257,712 $342,975 $499,124
July 2007 18,710 $261,120 $349,120 $499,930
June 2007 17,670 $264,282 $349,950 $507,949
May 2007 16,386 $264,900 $350,975 $512,662
April 2007 15,059 $264,900 $354,740 $517,740
March 2007 13,897 $264,450 $353,850 $523,425
February 2007 13,814 $258,517 $349,800 $516,750
January 2007 13,726 $255,810 $349,637 $507,441
December 2006 14,746 $257,149 $348,246 $499,949
November 2006 15,671 $258,837 $348,750 $499,900
October 2006 16,027 $259,640 $348,834 $499,900
September 2006 15,239 $261,098 $349,675 $499,937
August 2006 14,029 $264,925 $350,737 $518,587
July 2006 12,864 $264,920 $350,470 $525,980
June 2006 11,261 $264,925 $349,975 $530,937
May 2006 9,804 $262,340 $350,940 $532,360
April 2006 8,701 $256,433 $346,433 $526,224

Data on deptofnumbers.com is for informational purposes only. No warranty or guarantee of accuracy is offered or implied. Contact ben@deptofnumbers.com (or @deptofnumbers on Twitter) if you have any questions, comments or suggestions.

 

 

 

Department of Numbers
http://www.deptofnumbers.com/

3 Tips To Get The Best Results On Your Mortgage Application, by Steph Noble


Although the financial markets have tightened lending guidelines and financing requirements over the last few years, the right advice when applying for your loan can make a big difference.

 

Not all loans are approved. And even when they aren’t approved immediately, it doesn’t have to be the end of your real estate dreams.

There are many reasons why a mortgage loan for the purchase of your real estate could be declined.

Here are a few things to understand and prepare for when applying for a mortgage:

 

Loan-to-Value Ratio

The loan-to-value ratio (LTV) is the percentage of the appraised value of the real estate that you are trying to finance.

For example, if you are trying to finance a home that costs $100,000, and want to borrow $75,000, your LTV is 75%.

Lenders generally don’t like a high LTV ratio. The higher the ratio, the harder it normally is to qualify for a mortgage.

You can positively affect the LTV by saving for a larger down payment.

 

Credit-to-Debt Ratio

Your credit score can be affected negatively, which in turn affects your mortgage loan if you have a high credit-to-debt ratio.

The ratio is figured by dividing the amount of credit available to you on a credit card or auto loan, and dividing it by how much you are currently owe.

High debt loads make a borrower less attractive to many lenders.

Try to keep your debt to under 50% of what is available to you. Lenders will appreciate it, and you will be more likely to get approved for a mortgage.

 

No Credit or Bad Credit

Few things can derail your mortgage loan approval like negative credit issues.

Having no credit record can sometimes present as much difficulty with your loan approval as having negative credit.

With no record of timely loan payments in your credit history, a lender is unable to determine your likelihood to repay the new mortgage.

Some lenders and loan programs may consider other records of payment, like utility bills and rent reports from your landlord.

Talk to your loan officer to determine which of these issues might apply to you, and take the steps to correct them.

Then, you can finance the home of your dreams.

As Inventories Shrink, So Do Seller Concessions, by RisMedia


With inventories down and prices up, sellers are ending the costly incentives they have been forced to offer buyers during the six-year long buyers’ market. Concession-free transactions make deal-making simple on both sides of the table.

There’s no better gauge of the onset of a seller’s market than the demise of concessions that were considered essential to attract buyer interest just a few months ago. The National Association of REALTORS®’ December REALTOR® Confidence Outlook reported that the market has steadily moved towards a seller’s market with buyers more willing to bear closing costs, in some cases paying for half or more of the closing cost. Tight inventories of homes for sale are making markets increasingly competitive.

NAR reports that last year 60 percent of all sellers offered incentives to attract buyers. The most popular was a free home warranty policy, which costs about $500, offered by 22 percent of sellers, but 17 percent upped the ante by paying a portion of buyers’ closing costs and 7 percent contributed to remodeling or repairs.

Concessions linger where inventories are still adequate and sales slow, but in tight markets like Washington D.C., the times when buyers can expect concessions are already over.

“Buyers are discovering, to their dismay that homes they wanted to see or possibly buy have already been snatched up before they even get a chance to see or make an offer on the property. This area’s unprecedented low inventory levels are slowly driving up home prices and making sellers reluctant to cede little if any concessions to buyers. Realtors are warning (or should in some cases) buyers to be prepared to act that day if they are interested in a property,” reporters a local broker.

In Albuquerque, supply is dwindling and sales are moving to a more balanced market. “Buyers can expect sellers to offer less concessions and sales prices will be close to list price,” reports broker Archie Saiz.

In Seattle, not only are concessions a thing of the past, desperate buyers are even resorting to writing “love letters” to win over sellers in competitive situations. Lena Maul, a broker/owner in Lynnwood, reports a successful letter-writing effort last month by one of her office’s clients. Those buyers, who were using FHA financing, wrote a letter introducing themselves to the seller and explaining why they liked the home so much. After reviewing 13 offers, including one from an all-cash investor, the seller chose the letter-writer’s offer.

New regulations enacted last year by the Federal Housing Administration to limit its exposure to risk forced many sellers to cut back on the amount of assistance on buyers’ closing costs. Sellers are now limited to no more than six percent of the loan amount.

Underwriting standards on conventional mortgages also have the effect of limiting the amount sellers can contribute.

In recent years many lenders have disallowed seller paid closing costs on 100 percent financed home loans because of the high foreclosure rate.

However, seller paid closing costs are typically limited to 6 percent of the loan amount at 90 percent loan-to-value or lower, 3 percent between 90-95 percent, and then usually 3 percent for 100 percent loan-to-value.

Some sellers bump up the home sales price to pay for concessions. However the buyer will need to get the higher amount he will need to borrow covered by the appraisal and he will have to meet increased debt-to-income ratio in order to close his loan.

The demise of concessions will make buying and selling a little simpler and more rational. As one observed asked, “Why would anyone selling a home pay the home buyer to buy it?”

For more information, visit www.realestateeconomywatch.com

Declining Home Inventory Affecting Sales, by Mortgage Implode Blog


 

 

This past week, several reports were released, all of which showed that declining home inventory is affecting sales. This decline is creating a seller’s market in which multiple bids are being made to purchase homes. According to the National Association of Realtors, existing home sales fell 1% in December, but were still at the second highest level since November, 2009. Inventory of homes for sale fell 8.5 from November, the lowest level since January of 2001, and are down 21.6% from December of 2011.

Following that lead, pending home sales dropped 4.34% in December to 101.7 from 106.3 in November, yet was 6.9% higher than December, 2011, according to the National Association of Realtors. The Chief Economist at NAR stated that “supplies of homes costing less than $100,000 are tight in much of the country, especially in the West, so first time buyers have fewer options”. Mortgage ratesare still low, affordability is still there, but the available homes are dwindling. In the meantime, home prices are increasing at a faster pace. According to the latest S&P/Case-Shiller index for November, property values rose 5.5% from November of 2011 which was the highest year over year increase since August of 2006.

The cause of the low inventory can be attributed to several factors. For the week ending January 18th, loan applications increased 7.0% on a seasonally adjusted basis, according to the Mortgage Banker’s Association. The Refinance Index rose 8% with refinances representing 82% of all applications. The seasonally adjusted Purchase Index rose 3%, the highest level since May, 2010. Many homeowners have chosen a mortgage refinance instead of moving to another home which is one reason that inventory is down. In addition, many underwater homeowners have refinanced through the HARP program which is available for loans that were sold to Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac prior to June 1, 2009. These homeowners may not yet be in a position to sell their homes until they have gained back enough equity. As home prices increase, this will eventually happen. The same can be said for those who refinanced through the FHA streamline program which is offering reduced fees for loans that were endorsed prior to June 1, 2009. Refinancing through these two government programs, both available until the end of 2013, hit all time highs in 2012.

Home builders are busy, but not currently building new homes at the rate that was seen during the housing boom. According to the Census Bureau and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, total new homes sales in 2012 hit the highest level seen since 2009 and were up 19.9% from 2011. There was much progress made in 2012, but sales for new homes fell 7.3% in December.

On the down side, the Census Bureau reported that homeownership fell 0.6% to 65.4% during December, down from 65.5% at the end of October and 66% at the end of 2011. Homeownership reached a peak of 69.2% in 2004 and has been falling since that time. The latest Consumer Confidence index dropped to 58.6 which is the weakest since November of 2011. It was previously at a revised 66.7 in December. This fell more than expected and is due to the higher payroll tax that is taking more out of the pockets of consumers.

The housing market, which is still in recovery, remains fragile. The lack of inventory and the rise of home prices may affect its progress this year. As home prices increase, fewer consumers will be able to qualify for a home loan. Existing homeowners may choose to refinance remain where they are instead of purchasing another home. While jobless claims have fallen, there are still many consumers who are out of work or are working lower paid jobs. The housing market is dependent on jobs, not just for salaries, but for consumer movement from one area to another.

FreeRateUpdate.com surveys more than two dozen wholesale and direct lenders’ rate sheets to determine the most accurate mortgage rates available to well qualified consumers at about a 1 point origination fee.

 

 

http://ml-implode.com/viewnews/2013-01-30_DecliningHomeInventoryAffectingSales.html

 

 

MultnomahForeclosures.com Updated with New Notice of Default Lists



Visit MultnomahForeclosures.com for the notice of default lists (Homes in Foreclosure) for Multnomah County and other Oregon counties.

Multnomah Country Foreclosures
http://multnomahforeclosures.com

Fred Stewart
Stewart Group Realty Inc.
info@sgrealtyinc.com
http://www.sgrealty.net

When a quality check can ruin a short sale, by Chris Diaz, The Orange County Register


Chris Diaz is the founder of Charis Financial, Inc. He has over 15 years experience in helping homeowners with their mortgages and has closed hundreds of short sales over the last 4 years. His website is http://www.charisfinancialinc.com. Send questions to moneymatters@ocregister.com; reference ³Short Sales² in the subject line. 
I was recently approved for a short sale by (my bank).  The loan was in escrow and ready to close within a few days.  I then got a letter from (the bank) denying my short sale due to “quality review”.  My approval letter wasn’t set to expire for another two weeks and nobody in (the bank) could give me a valid reason as to why I received this denial.  Have you seen this scenario before and do you have any suggestions for me as I really don’t want to lose my home to foreclosure?

Yes, the out of the blue “QA Review” denial.  This one is a difficult one because of the lack of explanation from your bank.  It’s difficult to accept that one can have an approval in hand, with an expiration date that hasn’t yet expired, and still get a denial for a reason that is unexplained.  However, this is a reality and it does happen, albeit somewhat infrequently.

Even though your lender has accepted responsibility for their part in one of the largest instances of mortgage fraud on record with the robo-signing incident, they have a QA team that dedicates a great deal of time and effort in making sure that their company is free from other purveyors of fraud.  As well they should because there are lots of unscrupulous people trying to steal a buck instead of earn one.

One recent incident, in which a bank was victimized, was where short sale negotiators were doctoring up fake approval letters along with a fake bank account to have funds wired to, and stealing money that way.  The FBI said that three California men probably netted $10 million doing that.

Here are two of the main reasons that we’ve been told as to why a QA department would deny your file and what you can do to reverse or overturn the decision:

1. Buyer information is incorrect. Sometimes QA will deny a deal if the buyer’s preapproval has inaccuracies like the wrong NMLS number, broker number, or property address.  This can also happen if the buyer’s “proof of funds” is determined to be fraudulent or doctored in any way.  We have also seen it happen where the buyer is getting a loan but has enough money in the bank to pay for a property in cash.  Even though they could’ve bought the house in cash, because there was no preapproval letter for a loan, QA denied the short sale until we provided that letter.  This has happened even if we weren’t specifically asked for the letter.

2. The Equator account being used to process the short sale has been flagged. Some banks use an automated processing system called Equator to handle their short sales.  Equator centralizes all communication for all files that a real estate licensee is working on with them.  Sometimes, a licensee can involve themselves in schemes like I described above, or can just be guilty of shoddy work and upload documents from files incorrectly.  If the QA team catches either of these two things they may flag that file or all of the files of that particular agent.  Once that happens they would contact the agent for an explanation.  However, if they feel that there are deliberate inaccuracies in the file an agent can be suspended from doing any further deals with that bank.  If that happened your deal could be denied even if there was nothing fraudulent done on yours.

If a QA team has denied your short sale, have your agent address these two situations first as they are the most common.  So long as you’re dealing with someone who is ethical, there is probably just a minor oversight of buyer info that the bank needs to have satisfied.  Have your agent submit the complete buyer info first and then call to have the decision reversed.

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac Serious Delinquency rates declined in May, by Calculatedriskblog.com


Fannie Mae reported that the Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate declined in May to 3.57% from 3.63% April. The serious delinquency rate is down from 4.14% in May last year, and this is the lowest level since April 2009.

The Fannie Mae serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 5.59%.

Freddie Mac reported that the Single-Family serious delinquency rate declined slightly in May to 3.50%, from 3.51% in April. Freddie’s rate is only down from 3.53% in May 2011. Freddie’s serious delinquency rate peaked in February 2010 at 4.20%.

To Read the rest of this article go to calculatedriskblog.com

America’s Credit and Housing Crisis: New State Bank Bills, Marketoracle.co.uk


Seventeen states have now introduced bills for state-owned banks, and others are in the works.  Hawaii’s innovative state bank bill addresses the foreclosure mess.  County-owned banks are being proposed that would tackle the housing crisis by exercising the right of eminent domain on abandoned and foreclosed properties.  Arizona has a bill that would do this for homeowners who are current in their payments but underwater, allowing them to refinance at fair market value.

The long-awaited settlement between 49 state Attorneys General and the big five robo-signing banks is proving to be a majordisappointment before it has even been signed, sealed and court approved.  Critics maintain that the bankers responsible for the housing crisis and the jobs crisis will again be buying their way out of jail, and the curtain will again drop on the scene of the crime.

We may not be able to beat the banks, but we don’t have to play their game.  We can take our marbles and go home.  The Move Your Money campaign has already prompted more than 600,000 consumers to move their funds out of Wall Street banks into local banks, and there are much larger pools that could be pulled out in the form of state revenues.  States generally deposit their revenues and invest their capital with large Wall Street banks, which use those hefty sums to speculate, invest abroad, and buy up the local banks that service our communities and local economies.  The states receive a modest interest, and Wall Street lends the money back at much higher interest.

Rhode Island is a case in point.  In an article titled “Where Are R.I. Revenues Being Invested? Not Locally,” Kyle Hence wrote in ecoRI Newson January 26th:

 

According to a December Treasury report, only 10 percent of Rhode Island’s short-term investments reside in truly local in-state banks, namely Washington Trust and BankRI. Meanwhile, 40 percent of these investments were placed with foreign-owned banks, including a British-government owned bank under investigation by the European Union.

Further, millions have been invested by Rhode Island in a fund created by a global buyout firm . . . . From 2008 to mid-2010, the fund lost 10 percent of its value — more than $2 million. . . . Three of four of Rhode Island’s representatives in Washington, D.C., count [this fund] amongst their top 25 political campaign donors . . . .

Hence asks:

Are Rhode Islanders and the state economy being served well here? Is it not time for the state to more fully invest directly in Rhode Island, either through local banks more deeply rooted in the community or through the creation of a new state-owned bank?

Hence observes that state-owned banks are “[o]ne emerging solution being widely considered nationwide  . . . . Since the onset of the economic collapse about five years ago, 16 states have studied or explored creating state-owned banks, according to a recent Associated Press report.”

2012 Additions to the Public Bank Movement

Make that 17 states, including three joining the list of states introducing state bank bills in 2012: Idaho (a bill for a feasibility study), New Hampshire (a bill for a bank), and Vermont (introducing THREE bills—one for a state bank study, one for a state currency, and one for a state voucher/warrant system).  With North Dakota, which has had its own bank for nearly a century, that makes 18 states that have introduced bills in one form or another—36% of U.S. states.  For states and text of bills, see here.

Other recent state bank developments were in Virginia, Hawaii, Washington State, and California, all of which have upgraded from bills to study the feasibility of a state-owned bank to bills to actually establish a bank.  The most recent, California’s new bill, was introduced on Friday, February 24th.

All of these bills point to the Bank of North Dakota as their model.  Kyle Hence notes that North Dakota has maintained a thriving economy throughout the current recession:

One of the reasons, some say, is the Bank of North Dakota, which was formed in 1919 and is the only state-owned or public bank in the United States. All state revenues flow into the Bank of North Dakota and back out into the state in the form of loans.

Since 2008, while servicing student, agricultural and energy— including wind — sector loans within North Dakota, every dollar of profit by the bank, which has added up to tens of millions, flows back into state coffers and directly supports the needs of the state in ways private banks do not.

Publicly-owned Banks and the Housing Crisis

A novel approach is taken in the new Hawaii bill:  it proposes a program to deal with the housing crisis and the widespread problem of breaks in the chain of title due to robo-signing, faulty assignments, and MERS.  (For more on this problem, see here.)  According to a February 10th report on the bill from the Hawaii House Committees on Economic Revitalization and Business & Housing:

The purpose of this measure is to establish the bank of the State of Hawaii in order to develop a program to acquire residential property in situations where the mortgagor is an owner-occupant who has defaulted on a mortgage or been denied a mortgage loan modification and the mortgagee is a securitized trust that cannot adequately demonstrate that it is a holder in due course.

The bill provides that in cases of foreclosure in which the mortgagee cannot prove its right to foreclose or to collect on the mortgage, foreclosure shall be stayed and the bank of the State of Hawaii may offer to buy the property from the owner-occupant for a sum not exceeding 75% of the principal balance due on the mortgage loan.  The bank of the State of Hawaii can then rent or sell the property back to the owner-occupant at a fair price on reasonable terms.

Arizona Senate Bill 1451, which just passed the Senate Banking Committee 6 to 0, would do something similar for homeowners who are current on their payments but whose mortgages are underwater (exceeding the property’s current fair market value).  Martin Andelman callsthe bill a “revolutionary approach to revitalizing the state’s increasingly water-logged housing market, which has left over 500,000 ofArizona’s homeowners in a hopelessly immobile state.”

The bill would establish an Arizona Housing Finance Reform Authority to refinance the mortgages of Arizona homeowners who owe more than their homes are currently worth.  The existing mortgage would be replaced with a new mortgage from AHFRA in an amount up to 125% of the home’s current fair market value. The existing lender would get paid 101% of the home’s fair market value, and would get a non-interest-bearing note called a “loss recapture certificate” covering a portion of any underwater amounts, to be paid over time.  The capital to refinance the mortgages would come from floating revenue bonds, and payment on the bonds would come solely from monies paid by the homeowner-borrowers. An Arizona Home Insurance Fund would create a cash reserve of up to 20 percent of the bond and would be used to insure against losses. The bill would thus cost the state nothing.

Critics of the Arizona bill maintain that it shifts losses from collapsed property values onto banks and investors, violating the law of contracts; and critics of the Hawaii bill maintain that the state bank could wind up having paid more than market value for a slew of underwater homes. An option that would avoid both of these objections is one suggested by Michael Sauvante of the Commonwealth Group, discussed earlierhere: the state or county could exercise its right of eminent domain on blighted, foreclosed and abandoned properties.  It could offer to pay fair market value to anyone who could prove title (something that with today’s defective title records normally can’t be done), then dispose of the property through a publicly-owned land bank as equity and fairness dictates.  If a bank or trust could prove title, the claimant would get fair market value, which would be no less than it would have gotten at an auction; and if it could not prove title, it legally would have no claim to the property.  Investors who could prove actual monetary damages would still have an unsecured claim in equity against the mortgagors for any sums owed.

 

Rhode Island Next?

As the housing crisis lingers on with little sign of relief from the Feds, innovative state and local solutions like these are gaining adherents in other states; and one of them is Rhode Island, which is in serious need of relief.  According to The Pew Center on the States, “The country’s smallest state . . . was one of the first states to fall into the recession because of the housing crisis and may be one of the last to emerge.”

Rhode Islanders are proud of having been first in a number of more positive achievements, including being the first of the 13 original colonies to declare independence from British rule.  A state bank presentation was made to the president of the Rhode Island Senate and other key leaders earlier this month that was reportedly well received.  Proponents have ambitions of making Rhode Island the first state in this century to move its money out of Wall Street into its own state bank, one owned and operated by the people for the people.

Ellen Brown is an attorney and president of the Public Banking Institute, http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.  In Web of Debt, her latest of eleven books, she shows how a private cartel has usurped the power to create money from the people themselves, and how we the people can get it back.  Her websites are http://WebofDebt.com and http://EllenBrown.com

Ellen Brown is a frequent contributor to Global Research.  Global Research Articles by Ellen Brown

© Copyright Ellen Brown 2012

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Centre for Research on Globalization. The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s). The Centre for Research on Globalization will not be responsible or liable for any inaccurate or incorrect statements contained in this article.

http://www.marketoracle.co.uk/Article33365.html

MERS


What we need to do is take a survey, the population being made up of mortgage borrowers between the years 2002-2008. Why these years would become apparent with the results, which can be predicted before ever tallying the results. It would be a one question survey:

“Upon loan origination, was it required, in addition to completing a loan 1003 loan application, that you also provide specific documents for verification and loan qualification purposes, or did you simply have to complete a loan 1003 loan application?”

My bet would be that most everyone who was in receipt of a loan prior to September 2005 was required to submit documents to a human person which were used to verify loan qualification. Most nearly everyone subsequent that date was not required to submit anything by way of supporting documents.

This gives us two separately defined groups:

GROUP A: borrowers whose loans were humanly underwritten and verified

GROUP B: borrowers whose loans were underwritten entirely by automation

We can argue about the underlying reasons for economic collapse all day long, as there are certainly many, but one fact remains as being integral. This is acknowledging that there were borrowers that never, ever should have been approved for a loan, yet were. It was this very small subset of borrowers in Group B however, those that defaulted nearly immediately, that is within the first through third months out of the gate. It was these ‘early payment defaults (EPD’s ) that spread throughout the investment community causing fear, bringing into question the quality of all loan originations, thereby freezing the credit markets in August 2007, a year later the entire economy collapsed.

Of course, it is much more complex than that, but the crucial piece that provided the catalyst was these EPD’s. It was the quality of the borrowers from these EPD’s that became the model by which was used to stigmatize all borrowers. What was needed was a fall guy, to first lessen the anger towards the bailouts in providing a scapegoat, and second to divert attention away from the facts underlying the lending standards the failed and/or intentionally purposeful failure of the automation. From my research, it was with purposeful intent come hell or high water is my mission in life to bring forth into the public light.

Putting intent aside for the moment and just focusing on the EPD’s and the domino effect they caused which resulted in millions of borrowers, from both Groups A and B, to lose their homes or struggling to hold on. How could one small group of failed borrowers affect millions of other borrowers, especially those who were qualified through the traditional methods of underwriting?

The answer is an obvious one, coming down to the one common element that is the structuring of the loan products, that as it relates to the reset. Anyone whose reset occurred just prior and certainly after the economic collapse was as the saying goes…..Screwed. It is within is this, that the Grand Illusion lay intentionally concealed and hidden. It is within the automation wherein all the evidence clearly points to the fact that a mortgage is not a mortgage but rather a basket of securities….Not just any securities, but debt defaultable securities. In other words, it was largely planned to intentionally give loans to those whom were known to result in default.

But, even without understanding any of the issues as to the ‘basket of securities” there is one obvious point that looms, hiding in plain sight, which I believe should be completely exploited. This as it directly relates to our mortal enemy, that which takes the name of MERS. I know there are those that disseminate the structure of Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc and Merscorp as it relates to the MIN number and want to pick it apart, and all this is well and good. However, they miss the larger and more obvious point that clearly gives some definition.

There is one particular that every one of those millions upon millions of borrowers, those in both Group A and Group B along with the small subset of Group B, all have in common. ……MERS. MERS was integrated into every set of loan documents, slide past the borrowers without explanation without proper representation in concealing the implied contracts behind the trade and service mark of MERS.

MERS does not discriminate between a good or a bad loan, a loan is a loan as far it is concerned, whether it was fraudulently underwritten or perfectly underwritten. If it is registered with MERS the good, the bad, the ugly all go down, and therein lays an issue that is pertinent to discussion.

MERS was written into all Fannie and Freddie Uniform Security Instrument, not by happenstance, rather mandated by Fannie and Freddie. It was they who crafted verbiage and placement within the document. Fannie and Freddie are of course agency loans, however nearly 100% of non-agency lenders utilized the same Fannie and Freddie forms. Put into context, MERS covers both agency and non-agency, and not surprisingly members of MERS as well. Talk about fixing the game!!

It would seem logical, considering we, the American Taxpayer own Fannie Mae, that we should be entitled some answers to some very basic questions……The primary question: If Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac mandated that MERS play the role that it does, why than were there no quality control measures in place, and should they not have been responsible for putting in some safety measures in place?

The question is a logical one; any other business would have buried in litigation had a product it sponsored or mandated, as the case may be here, resulted in complete failure. From the standpoint of public policy, MERS was a tremendous failure. Why? The answer derives itself from the facts as laid out above regarding the underwriting processes and the division of borrowers: Group A and B.

This becomes a pertinent taking into account Fannie Mae on record in its recorded patents.

US PATENT #7,881,994 B1– Filed April 1, 2004, Assignee: Fannie Mae

 ‘It is well known that low doc loans bear additional risk. It is also true that these loans are

charged higher rates in order to compensate for the increased risk.’

 

System and method for processing a loan

US PATENT # 7,653,592– Filed December 30, 2005, Assignee: Fannie Mae

The following from the Summary section states:

‘An exemplary embodiment relates to a computer-implemented mortgage loan application data processing system comprising user interface logic and a workflow engine. The user interface logic is accessible by a borrower and is configured to receive mortgage loan application data for a mortgage loan application from the borrower. The workflow engine has stored therein a list representing tasks that need to be performed in connection with a mortgage loan application for a mortgage loan for the borrower. The tasks include tasks for fulfillment of underwriting conditions generated by an automated underwriting engine. The workflow engine is configured to cooperate with the user interface logic to prompt the borrower to perform the tasks represented in the list including the tasks for the fulfillment of the underwriting conditions. The system is configured to provide the borrower with a fully-verified approval for the mortgage loan application. The fully-verified approval indicates that the mortgage loan application data received from the borrower has already been verified as accurate using information from trusted sources. The fully-verified approval is provided in a form that allows the mortgage loan application to be provided to different lenders with the different lenders being able to authenticate the fully-verified approval status of the mortgage loan application’

Computerized systems and methods for facilitating the flow of capital

through the housing finance industry

US PATENT # 7,765,151– Filed July 21, 2006, Assignee: Fannie Mae

The following passages taken from patent documents reads:

‘The prospect or other loan originator preferably displays generic interest rates (together with an assumptive rate sheet, i.e., current mortgage rates) on its Internet web site or the like to entice online mortgage shoppers to access the web site (step 50). The generic interest rates (“enticement rates”) displayed are not intended to be borrower specific, but are calculated by pricing engine 22 and provided to the loan originator as representative, for example, of interest rates that a “typical” borrower may expect to receive, or rates that a fictitious highly qualified borrower may expect to receive, as described in greater detail hereinafter. FIG. 2b depicts an example of a computer Internet interface screen displaying enticement rates.’

 ’If the potential borrower enters a combination of factors that is ineligible, the borrower is notified immediately of the ineligibility and is prompted to either change the selection or call a help center for assistance (action 116). It should be understood that this allows the potential borrower to change the response to a previous question and then continue on with the probable qualification process. If the potential borrower passes the eligibility screening, the borrower then is permitted to continue on with the probable qualification assessment.’

‘Underwriting engine 24 also determines, for each approved product, the minimum amount of verification documentation (e.g., minimum assets to verify, minimum income to verify), selected loan underwriting parameters, assuming no other data changes, (e.g., maximum loan amount for approval, maximum loan amount for aggregating closing costs with the loan principal, and minimum refinance amount), as well as the maximums and minimums used to tailor the interest rate quote (maximum schedule interest rate and maximum number of points) and maximum interest rate approved for float up to a preselected increase over a current approved rate. It should be appreciated that this allows the potential borrower to provide only that information that is necessary for an approval decision, rather than all potentially relevant financial and other borrower information. This also reduces the processing burden on system.’

The two patents above was Fannie Mae’s means of responding to its competition, that being the non-agency who had surpassed the agencies in sales volume (those stats I will have to dig up and repost as they are not handy at the moment), as the non-agencies had dropped all standards back in and around September 2005.

The point being though, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mad were the caretakers of MERS, so to speak, inasmuch as mandating MERS upon the borrowers. Had there been safety measures in place that caught the fact that the loans that were dumping out quickly, that is the EPD’s, there might have been a stoppage in place, thereby preventing MERS from executing foreclosures upon every successive mortgage.

I know that this is all BS though, because it is a cover up, a massive one that cuts into the heart of the United States government. This is perhaps one avenue by which to get there, as the questions asked are easily understood, as opposed to digging into the automation processes which people apparently are not ready to accept as of yet.

House is Gone but Debt Lives On; Expect Huge Surge in Deficiency Lawsuits, by Mike “Mish” Shedlock


Forty-one states allow lenders to sue for mortgage debt if a home fetches less than the mortgage in a foreclosure sale. It always will. Such lawsuits are one of the reasons I have consistently advised people to consult an attorney before walking away.

For a nice write-up on deficiency judgments please consider the Wall Street Journal article House Is Gone but Debt Lives On.

Joseph Reilly lost his vacation home here last year when he was out of work and stopped paying his mortgage. The bank took the house and sold it. Mr. Reilly thought that was the end of it.

In June, he learned otherwise. A phone call informed him of a court judgment against him for $192,576.71. It turned out that at a foreclosure sale, his former house fetched less than a quarter of what Mr. Reilly owed on it. His bank sued him for the rest.

The result was a foreclosure hangover that homeowners rarely anticipate but increasingly face: a “deficiency judgment.”

Until recently, “there was a false sense of calm” among borrowers who went through foreclosure, Mr. Englett says. “That’s changing,” he adds, as borrowers learn they may be financially on the hook even after the house is gone.

Some close observers of the housing scene are convinced this is just the beginning of a surge in deficiency judgments. Sharon Bock, clerk and comptroller of Palm Beach County, Fla., expects “a massive wave of these cases as banks start selling the judgments to debt collectors.”

Because most targets have scant savings, the judgments sell for only about two cents on the dollar, versus seven cents for credit-card debt, according to debt-industry brokers.

Silverleaf Advisors LLC, a Miami private-equity firm, is one investor in battered mortgage debt. Instead of buying ready-made deficiency judgments, it buys banks’ soured mortgages and goes to court itself to get judgments for debt that remains after foreclosure sales.

Silverleaf says its collection efforts are limited. “We are waiting for the economy to somewhat heal so that it’s a better time to go after people,” says Douglas Hannah, managing director of Silverleaf.

Investors know that most states allow up to 20 years to try to collect the debts, ample time for the borrowers to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, the debts grow at about an 8% interest rate, depending on the state.

Laws vary from state to state and things may depend on whether or not the loan is a recourse loan or not. Once again, before walking away, and before considering a short-sale or bankruptcy, please consult an attorney who knows real estate laws for your state.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
http://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Why Isn’t The Unemployment Crisis a National Emergency?, Economist’s View Blog


Even though the president has pivoted “from deficit reduction to job creation,” and even though job creation was the theme of the weekly address Obama gave today, I can’t say I’m any more encouraged about the prospects for a significant job creation package than I was when I wrote this.]

Labor markets are in terrible shape. Fourteen million people are unemployed, long-term unemployment remains near record highs, the ratio of job seekers to job openings is 4.3 to 1, and the employment to population ratio has dropped precipitously. Even if the economy grows at a robust average of 3.5% beginning in 2013, labor markets won’t fully recover until 2017. And if average growth is only 3.0% – well within the range of possibility – it will take until 2020. In short, labor markets are in crisis and the longer the crisis persists, the more permanent and growth-inhibiting the damage becomes.

So it was welcome news to see President Obama pivot from deficit reduction to job creation in his widely anticipated speech last week. The president proposed a combination of spending and tax reduction policies, and he surprised many people with the boldness of his proposals and his passion and commitment to the issue. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely to do much to help with the unemployment problem.

There plenty of time to provide help, the dismal prospects for recovery detailed above make that clear. So the time it takes to implement job creation policies – the objection that there are not enough shovel ready projects – is not the issue. And while concerns over the deficit are valid for the long-run, they shouldn’t prevent us from doing more to help the jobless. The long-run debt problem is predominantly a health care cost problem, and whether or not we help the jobless doesn’t much change the magnitude of the long-run problem we face.

The problem is the political atmosphere. Republicans may go along with doing just enough to look cooperative rather than obstructionist, but no more than that and the policies that emerge are unlikely to be enough to make a substantial difference in the unemployment problem. It won’t be anywhere near the $445 billion program the president has called for, which itself is short of what is needed to really make a difference.

I don’t expect we’ll get much more help from the Fed either. There is quite a bit of disagreement among monetary policymakers over whether further easing would do more harm than good, and inflation hawks are standing in the way of those who want to aggressively attack the unemployment problem. As with Congress, the Fed is likely to adopt a compromise position and do the minimum it can while still looking as though it is trying to meet its obligation to promote full employment.

Thus, despite the President’s newfound interest in job creation, and the call from some at the Fed to treat the unemployment problem the same way they would treat elevated inflation – as though “their hair was on fire” – the actual policies that come out of Congress and the Fed are unlikely to be sufficient to make much of a dent in the problem.

It’s time for this to change. The loss of 8.75 million payroll jobs since the recession began should be a national emergency. But it’s not, and the question is why. Why has deficit reduction taken precedence over job creation? Why is our political system broken to the extent that a whole segment of the population is not being adequately represented in Congress?

That brings me to an important difference between the response to this recession and the policies that followed the Great Depression. Many of the policies that were enacted during and after the Great Depression not only addressed economic problems, they also directly or indirectly reduced the ability of special interests to capture the political process. Polices that imposed regulations on the financial sector, broke up monopolies, reduced inequality through highly progressive taxes, accorded new powers to unions, and so on shifted the balance of power toward the typical household.

But since the 1970s many of these changes have been reversed. Inequality has reverted to levels unseen since the Gilded Age, monopoly power has increased, financial regulation has waned, union power has been lost, and much of the disgust with the political process revolves around the feeling that politicians have lost touch with the interests of the working class. And it would be hard to disagree with that sentiment.

We need a serious discussion of this issue, followed by changes that shift political power toward the working class, but who will start the conversation? Congress has no interest in doing so, things are quite lucrative as they are. Unions used to have a voice, but they have been all but eliminated as a political force. The press could serve as the gatekeeper, but too many outlets are controlled by the very interests that the press needs to take on and this gives them the ability to cloud most any issue. Presidential leadership could make a difference, and Obama’s election brought hope for change, but this president does not seem inclined to take a strong stand on behalf of the working class despite the surprising boldness of his job creation speech.

Another option is that the working class itself will say enough is enough and demand change. There was a time when I would have scoffed at the idea of a mass revolt against entrenched political interests and the incivility that comes with it. We aren’t there yet – there’s still time for change – but the signs of unrest are growing and if we continue along a two-tiered path that ignores the needs of such a large proportion of society, it can no longer be ruled out.

U.S. To Have Tough Time in Suits Against 17 Banks Over Mortgage Bonds, by Jim Puzzanghera, Los Angeles Times


Federal regulators allege the banks misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac over the safety of the bonds. But analysts say the two mortgage giants should have known that the loans behind the bonds were toxic.

Reporting from Washington—

The government’s latest attempt to hold large banks accountable for helping trigger the Great Recession could fall as flat as earlier efforts to punish Wall Street villains and compensate taxpayers for bailing out the financial industry.

Federal regulators, in landmark lawsuits this month, alleged that 17 large banks misled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac on the safety and soundness of $200 billion worth of mortgage-backed securities sold to the two housing finance giants, sending them to the brink of bankruptcy and forcing the government to seize them.

Targets of other federal lawsuits and investigations have deflected such claims by arguing, for example, that the collapse of the housing market and job losses from the recession caused the loss in the value of mortgage-backed securities.

The big banks, though, might have a more powerful defense: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were no novices at investment decisions.

The two companies were major players in the subprime housing boom through the mortgage-backed securities market they helped create, and they should have known better than anyone that many of the loans behind those securities were toxic, some analysts and legal experts said.

“I can’t think of two more sophisticated clients who were in a better position to do the due diligence on these investments,” said Andrew Stoltmann, a Chicago investors’ lawyer specializing in securities lawsuits. “For them to claim they were misled in some form or fashion, I think, is an extremely difficult legal argument to make.”

But the Federal Housing Finance Agency, which has been running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac since the government seized them in 2008, argued that banks can’t misrepresent the quality of their products no matter how savvy the investor.

“Under the securities laws at issue here, it does not matter how ‘big’ or ‘sophisticated’ a security purchaser is. The seller has a legal responsibility to accurately represent the characteristics of the loans backing the securities being sold,” the FHFA said.

The sophistication of Fannie and Freddie is expected to be the centerpiece of the banks’ aggressive defense. Analysts still expect the suits to be settled to avoid lengthy court battles, but they said the weakness of the case meant that financial firms would have to pay far less money than Fannie and Freddie lost on the securities.

Stoltmann predicted that a settlement would bring in only several hundred million dollars on total losses estimated so far at about $30 billion.

In the 17 suits, the FHFA alleged that it was given misleading data.

For example, in the suit against General Electric Co. over two securities sold in 2005 by its former mortgage banking subsidiary, the FHFA said Freddie Mac was told that at least 90% of the loans in those securities were for owner-occupied homes.

The real figure was slightly less than 80%, which significantly increased the likelihood of losses on the combined $549 million in securities, the suit said.

GE said it “plans to vigorously contest these claims.” The company said it had made all its scheduled payments to date and had paid down the principal to about $66 million.

The federal agency also has taken on some of the titans of the financial industry, including Goldman Sachs & Co., Bank of America Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co., to try to recoup some of the losses on the securities. That would help offset the $145 billion that taxpayers now are owed in the Fannie and Freddie bailouts.

The suits represent one of the most forceful government legal actions against the banking industry nearly four years after the start of a severe recession and financial crisis brought on in part by the crash of the housing market.

The FHFA had been negotiating separately with the banks to recover losses from mortgage-backed securities purchased by Fannie and Freddie, but decided to get more aggressive.

“Over the last couple of years, they’ve been doing sort of hand-to-hand combat with each of the banks,” said Michael Bar, a University of Michigan law professor who was assistant Treasury secretary for financial institutions in 2009-10. “The suits are an attempt to consolidate those fights over individual loans.”

Bar thinks the government has a legitimate case.

“The banks will say, ‘You got what you paid for,'” he said. “And the investors will say, ‘No we didn’t. We thought we were getting bad loans and we got horrible loans.'”

Edward Mills, a financial policy analyst with FBR Capital Markets, said the FHFA has a fiduciary responsibility to try to limit the losses by Fannie and Freddie. But the independent regulatory agency also probably felt political pressure to ensure that banks be held accountable for their actions leading up to the financial crisis, he said.

“There’s still a feeling out there that most of these entities got away without a real penalty, so there’s still a desire from the American people to show that someone had to pay,” Mills said.

Although the suits cover $200 billion in mortgage-backed securities, the actual losses that Fannie and Freddie incurred are much less. For example, the FHFA sued UBS Americas Inc. separately in July seeking to recover at least $900 million in losses on $4.5 billion in securities.

The faulty mortgage-backed securities contributed to combined losses of about $30 billion by Fannie and Freddie, but a final figure is likely to change as the real estate market struggles to work its way through a growing number of foreclosures.

Some experts worry that the uncertainty created by the lawsuits makes it more difficult for the housing market to recover, which adds to the pressure on the FHFA and the banks to settle.

The government case also could be weakened by an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into whether Fannie and Freddie did to their own investors what they’re accusing the banks of doing — not properly disclosing the risks of their investments.

Banks are expected to make that point as well. But both sides have strong motives to settle the cases and move on, said Peter Wallison, a housing finance expert at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

“Within any institution there are people who send emails and say crazy things, and the more these things are litigated, the more they get exposed,” Wallison said.

Because of flaws in its case and political pressures, the FHFA also will be motivated to settle, Wallison said.

“There will be a settlement because the settlement addresses the political issue … that the government is going to get its pound of flesh from the banks,” he said.

jim.puzzanghera@latimes.com