Readers may know I don’t do political endorsements. I’m making an exception because I’ve worked with Lisa Epstein and am extremely impressed with her knowledge, energy, and tenacity. And separately, readers may have come to recognize that county clerks and registers of deeds can be very important guards of the integrity of property records and legal processes. But only a very few, such as Jeff Thigpen in Guilford County, NC, and John O’Brien in Southern Essex County, Massachusetts, have bothered to investigate their own files and speak up about the large-scale problems they have unearthed.
Lisa is an oncology nurse who has become a self trained and formidable mortgage document and foreclosure procedures (as in abuse) expert. When I was invited by the Pew Charitable Trusts to pitch on a grant opportunity to do research on foreclosures, I asked Lisa to join the proposal team because I had already seen the caliber of her work and her ability to ferret out information and devise analyses quickly (short version of long story: we got approved but turned down the grant due to, among other things, Pew’s contract. For instance, they insisted on the right to audit my books and records even though this was a fixed dollar amount, and pretty modest grant, and I told them they could pay us in arrears, after we had submitted the final report and they had accepted it).
One example of her skill level: Adam Levitin, who is generally regarded as the top legal scholar in the US on mortgage securizations, asked a question in passing in a June post:
The irony here is that even if the GSEs lose the litigation and pay Illinois, they might still be evading paying millions of dollars of state and local taxes due by operation of their servicing guidelines. The GSEs claim that when a loan defaults, the property is automatically transferred to the servicer, so that the servicer can foreclose in its own name (and Fannie and Freddie’s names never appear, which would be bad for P.R.). It’s not clear how this automatic transfer actually works–I don’t know of any legal mechanism that blesses it, but maybe it can be brought into the scope of UCC Article 9 (other than in South Carolina). Irrepsective, in title theory states, the transfer might consistute a transfer of real estate, and thus be subject to taxation, even if the GSEs don’t record a deed. If I’m right on this, there could be a lot more tax liability for the GSEs coming out of foreclosures.
I had seen Lisa mention servicers flipping properties to Fannie and Freddie, so I thought she might have some insight. This was her reply:
I’ll put a list together now, there are about five flipping methods that are used by servicers. The flips go to securitized trusts or GSEs or in occasional instances, some shadowy entity or scratch-and-dent debt buyer.
I’ll just send F/F examples of the following methods where I have them on hand.
In Florida, it is extremely commonplace for one bank to serve a family a foreclosure lawsuit and then during the case (whether contested or not) the foreclosure mill lawyers change the name of the financial institution from one to another. This changes the name of the bank who is foreclosing or who gets the title to the home from one bank to another.
There are five total ways that the name of the foreclosing bank gets changed in a Florida foreclosure lawsuit (have no idea about other judicial states or how this is accomplished in non-judicial states)
1. Start case in one bank name, motion to substitute party plaintiff
2. Start the case in one bank name, motion to correct the name of the foreclosing bank due to a “typo” (scriverners error) –
3. Start the case in one bank name, get foreclosure judgment, bid at auction & win or no other bids (win by default), assign that winning bid to another bank
4. Start the case in one bank name, get foreclosure judgment, assign that judgment and right to bid at auction to another bank
5. Start the case in one bank name, get foreclosure judgment, bid & win or no other bids at auction so win by default, get title to home, immediately or sometimes months/years later flip the title to another bank (Quit Claim deeds from one bank to another)
In little more than an hour, she sent an example of each of the five types. With each, she provided backup and some narrative: docket information, scanned copies of filings, links to appraisal (which show the name of the property owner), etc.
Scary. I’m a little embarrassed not to have posted her findings but she sent so much material that it would be daunting to get it all into ScribD and then explain it.
Fellow Palm Beach county resident and foreclosure fraud investigator Lynn Szymoniak gave some other reasons to prod anyone you know in Palm Beach County to go to the polls next Tuesday and vote for Lisa:
Lisa will work to hold the banks, mortgage servicers and MERS accountable for their destruction of property chain-of-title. Lisa will work to prevent the banks from claiming a homestead exemption long after the qualifying residents move out. She would prevent Fannie and Freddie from wrongly claiming tax exemptions….
Only one candidate – Lisa Epstein – has sat through hundreds of foreclosure hearings and trials and has spoken out about the abuses by the foreclosure mills.
Only one candidate – Lisa Epstein – has combed through the court files to expose sewer service, robo-signing, forgeries and MERS fraud.
Only one candidate – Lisa Epstein – has worked tirelessly to protect Palm Beach County homeowners and citizens.
Only Lisa has the support and respect of this country’s most prominent and respected county recorders and court clerks because she has worked hard to earn that respect.
Lisa has also been endorsed by Alan Grayson and Neil Barofsky.
This is likely to be a low turnout race, so rousing the locals you know can tip the balance! Please forward this message and push your friends and relatives to vote in a race where their participation can make a difference.
Have a sister there. (Told you I have a sister for every occasion.) I’ll try to get her and her hubby’s votes. Hubby is ex-AirForce pilot, so he’ll vote, but don’t count on sis. She’s awwwfully busy….. making lots of money. Yep, she’s the one who believes whatever story is convenient. I know, I’ll tell her Lisa will protect her property rights, which is true. She wouldn’t want to have to worry about losing title to her property, which is either paid for, or mostly. She’s nervous as a bedbug as it is. Another sister makes her take valium when she’s around, telling her one of them has to take it, unless she wants her to fall off the wagon after almost 20 years. Thanksgiving is always fun at our house.
I probably shouldn’t post when I can’t sleep.
the primary election on Tuesday for this race is an open one, meaning any registered Dem, Repub or Indy can vote for Lisa.
BTW, the procedures Lisa sees in FL are the same seen here in NC, both non-judicial and a title-theory state (deed of trust), vs. FL which is judicial and lien theory. Unlike some states, here in NC agents of lenders can file foreclosure suits, so typically the servicers will file (MERS still pops up too), although the trend is moving towards more lenders filing. Even the GSE’s pop up to file occasionally, at least Fannie does. In the past, they NEVER appeared until a transfer after the sale.
Thanks for posting this Yves. As a party agnostic I feel the need to take a shower after 10 minutes of the sleaze that passes for politics these days.
FWIW…I’ve known Lisa for quite some time and there is no quit in that girl. She works non-stop, is very smart, and has the potential to make positive changes if she runs the Palm Beach Clerk’s Office.
I am calling Boca today- you just got Lisa two votes.
“Sewer fraud”?? Was not aware of that one except in terms of Jamie Dimon/Chase bribing city managers on bond deals.
How low can they go?
I think the term is actually “sewer service.” It refers to the practice of firms, paid by the county to serve homeowners with foreclosure notification, to toss the notices in the nearest large drain, instead. So much easier, faster and more profitable that way, you see. It accounts for the overwhelming number of homeowners who complain that they didn’t take action to save their homes because they didn’t know they were facing immediate foreclosure since they were never notified.
It’s awesome she’s a nurse. Nurses have been a beacon of sanity on single payer and so many other issues since the crash, since they’re on the front lines in so many ways.
Epstein’s site. Damn, if she had a widget, I’d add it to my sidebar.
I went to her site with the idea of making one final donation before the election but the donation link seems to have disappeared. Do you if it’s been moved?
I remember where the contribution link was, and indeed it’s gone.
Thank you so much for the support of my campaign. Florida election law prohibits campaign contributions for five days up to and including election day. The contribution page was removed when the deadline hit at midnight on August 9th.
Hell hath no fury like a man scorned, huh Steve?
I could deconstruct your false claims one by one but this one should suffice and is not even one that is directed at me personally;
Just looked in Palm Beach County per the official records of the county property appraiser
Listings for Fannie Mae owned properties
OWNED by Fannie Mae: 43 properties
OWNED by Federal National Home Loans: 695 properties
OWNED by Federal Nat’l: 1 property
OWNED by Federal Natl: 266 properties
Could do the same thing for Freddie Mac.
I gave you $40 bucks Lisa.
I sure hope you win, but if you lose I don’t even need you to pay me back.
I would just waste the money on something stupid or not do anything with it at all. Far better that you have it to help support your effort at cultivating civilization. It’s more than I am capable of. :)
One thing I can tell you is Lisa knows her facts and knows them real well. Steve, sorry you are so incorrect about what you are saying. What she drive and where she lives does not mean a thing. If you took the time to hear her story you would have your facts. I live in Boca so what im not rich at all, hmm sure wish I was!!
All to many times people says things that are incorrect and this time you are 100% incorrect. This woman has been on Rachal Maddow, and known for her caring of others to make things better. Im so sorry you will not vote for her, your missing the chance to have a person that cares alot about the perople who are suffering in this State with foreclures and other inappropriate filing of papers, marriage, legal douments etc. Thank you for confirming my faith in Lisa even more on people like you that just have wrong information and lies.
P.S. I am in no way attacking or against Sharon Block, just feel Lisa can have a better handle on lost papers, and piles of documents that are all over the county and in storage as Sharon has stated because of lack of funds. Then fight for funds and make sure people are protected.
Great Link — I’ve sent this out to several people that I know in Palm Beach and all will support Lisa. I hope that others will do the same.
Good Luck Lisa … we are pulling for you !!!
For other readers of this thread, had to remove comments by a troll apparently representing the opposition. Persistent and factually inaccurate.
I am also surprised the comment was removed instead of edited to remove the personal attacks. Seems like there were some legitimate concerns raised re: Ms. Epstein’s competency. The last thing that is needed is poorly informed advocacy.
I’ve seen her work on a listserv for over a year, and I’m enough of a recognized expert in this area that 1. Pew asked me to do a study and 2. I’m one of the panelists in a Federal Bar review course Aug 15 in NYC on chain of title and securitization issues, Judge Jed Rakoff moderating. I’m more than qualified to vet Lisa’s competence, both by my knowledge base and the amount of her work that I have seen over an extended period. For you to charge me with “poorly informed advocacy” is way out of line.
I don’t edit comments except mine (almost always in the first minute) and once in a blue moon to clear up grammar/spelling when I have time. They are either in as posted or if they are sufficiently obnoxious, (rare but it happens with increasing frequency as the trolls have gotten more aggressive), they get deleted.
And the guy complaining was wrong on the technical and practical matters (for instance, asserting things were impossible/prohibitive to do that other registers of deeds have actually done on their paltry budgets).
I wasn’t criticizing you for poorly informed advocacy. That comment was aimed at Ms. Epstein, and I take no position on whether she is or is not a good or well informed advocate, merely that the other gentleman seemed to raise some interesting points that should be debated, not quashed. My only criticism of you is your censorship. Based on Ms. Epstein’s reply, there appears to be some personal history between them, and if you want to excise that, that makes sense.
Of course, you don’t have to have an open forum on your webpage, but my personal bias is towards freedom of information. Let people make up their own minds. Maybe the other guy is full of shit, I don’t know.
Yves, Interesting that you would remove comments that you deem factually inacurate without checking the factual accuracy of those comments yourself.
Your premise is wrong.
I am in a position to judge the accuracy. You seem to forget I’ve been on this beat before it was a beat.
The fellow whose comments were removed was touting theory as opposed to what actually happens. I’ve seen numerous examples of actual court documents and trustee reports from Florida foreclosures, as well as analyses of same, from Lisa, April Charney, Lynn Szymoniak, Tom Ice, and others.
Thanks for the reminder to fill out my (Palm Beach County) absentee ballot. … With Lisa’s name, of course.
It’s nice to see Empiricism beat the crap out of the MMT’ers, heh .. i too know some folks in Palm Beach, they’re getting a phone call from me today, and they tend to listen to reason, so .. ;-)
(yes; of the ‘agape’ sort, heh)
p.s. we need more insiders and whistleblowers to tell the naked truth about the lies and deception perpetrated by those with embedded and entrenched power, the power they abuse (and we allowed) on our watch — We need more people like alan grayson in congressional offices, and then a constitutional convention fostered via Article V of the constitution to amend and abolish the untamed power of the ‘State’ to aggress upon We the true Sovereigns.
Bock is a crock….. if Lisa does not win this, the people can give up all hope