Banks Lose Pivotal Massachusetts Foreclosure Case

( Thom Weidlich – Bloomberg.com) — U.S. Bancorp and Wells Fargo & Co., in a ruling that drove down bank stocks, lost a foreclosure case before Massachusetts’s highest court that will guide lower courts in that state and may influence others in bank disputes involving state real-estate law.

The state Supreme Judicial Court yesterday upheld a judge’s decision saying two foreclosures were invalid because the banks didn’t prove they owned the mortgages, which he said were transferred into two mortgage-backed trusts without the recipients’ being named.

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Ohio GMAC Foreclosure Case May Set Anti-Wall Street Precedent

(Bloomberg.com) — When James Renfro had to stop making payments on his two-story fixer-upper in Parma, Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland, he triggered events that were supposed to result in the forced sale of his home.

That Nov. 15 auction has been canceled because of defects in documents submitted by his loan servicer, Ally Financial Inc.’s GMAC Mortgage unit. Two affidavits about Renfro’s home were signed by Jeffrey Stephan, a GMAC employee who said in sworn depositions in Florida and Maine that he hadn’t read thousands of affidavits he’d signed.

Renfro’s case has created a showdown between GMAC and Ohio’s Attorney General Richard Cordray. Cordray has asked Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas Judge Nancy Russo not to let GMAC simply submit new documents to cure defects without consequences. He’s taken the same stand against Wells Fargo & Co., which has said it found defects in 55,000 foreclosures.

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After Foreclosure, a Focus on Title Insurance

(New York Times) — When home buyers and people refinancing their mortgages first see the itemized estimate for all the closing costs and fees, the largest number is often for title insurance.

This moment is often profoundly irritating, mysterious and rushed — just like so much of the home-buying process. Lenders require buyers to have title insurance, but buyers are often not sure who picked the insurance company. And the buyers are so exhausted by the gantlet they’ve already run that they’re not interested in spending any time learning more about the policies and shopping around for a better one.

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Niche Lawyers Spawn Foreclosure Fracas

(Wall Street Journal) — The paperwork mess muddying home foreclosures erupted last month. But the legal strategy behind it traces to a lawyer’s gambit in 2006 that has helped keep one couple in their home six years beyond their last mortgage payment.  Lillian and Robert Jackson stopped paying on their home in Jacksonville, Fla., in 2004 when business dropped off at their cleaning company. Eviction might have seemed inevitable when they faced a foreclosure hearing two years later.

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