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Southern Points

Safely guiding you through today's changing mortgage environment

Fall, 2014 
In This Issue
Case Law Update
Tennessee SOTs
Title Insurance and DIL
Full Authority to Modify Language Debate
Integrated Closing Disclosures
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Positive Words from Clients and Borrowers!

"Has anyone told you today how wonderful your group is? Your folks are the best!"

- Client  

 

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Glen headshot

Greetings!
As fall of 2014 arrives and the economy continues to recover, those of us involved in the mortgage default industry are experiencing a "new reality" of our own.  For now, the days of record foreclosures and REO inventories are gone. They've been replaced by a record number of regulations.  Compliance is what seems to be on everyone's mind.  Nevertheless, the world of mortgage default rolls on and at Rubin Lublin we continue to adjust to the new realities. In this newsletter we've brought you timely articles on developments in foreclosure, title and loss mitigation. I thank you for being a "friend" of our firm, for taking some time out to read our newsletter and I wish you all the best in the coming months.

 

 
 

 
Best Regards,
  


 

Glen D. Rubin

Managing Partner 

Rubin Lublin, LLC     


 


Giving Back
We feel it's important to stay active in our community, as well as yours!  Here's some of the charitable efforts we've been involved in this quarter:
  • Emory Johns Creek Hospital
  • Somerset Community Hospital Foundation
  • Foundation to Assist Young Musicians
  • Alzheimer's Association
  • Children's Healthcare of Atlanta

Case Law Update: 

Eleventh Circuit Opens Door for New Challenges 

to Foreclosure Sales in Georgia 

Written By: Bret Chaness, Associate

 

On September 30, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit issued a published decision that has potentially opened a new avenue for borrowers with FHA-backed mortgages to challenge foreclosure sales. In Bates v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, NA, ___ F.3d ____, No. 13-15340, 2014 WL 4815546 (11th Cir. Sept. 30, 2014), a borrower "claim[ed] that Chase breached the mortgage deed by failing to comply strictly with certain regulations promulgated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development ("HUD") as part of the Federal Housing Administration lending program." Security instruments for FHA-backed mortgages contain numerous provisions related to HUD regulations, including the provision that the declaration of a default is "limited by regulations issued by the Secretary . . . ."

 

There is a split of authority around the country as to whether the alleged failure to comply with HUD regulations can form the basis of a breach of contract claim, since all courts agree that there is no independent private right of action against a creditor for the breach of a HUD regulation. The district court in Bates dismissed the breach of contract claim because it held that "binding precedent in this Circuit, as well as authority from Georgia courts, establishes that a borrower has no private right of action for damages against her mortgage servicer for a violation of HUD regulations." No. 4:12-CV-43 (CDL), 2013 WL 5755585, at *5 (M.D. Ga. Oct. 23, 2013). On appeal, the Eleventh Circuit agreed that there is no independent cause of action for breach of a HUD regulation, but if HUD regulations operate as a condition precedent to certain provisions in the security instrument, a borrower can allege a breach of contract claim against the lender for noncompliance with HUD regulations.

 

As a result of the Bates opinion, we expect to see new lawsuits filed based on alleged noncompliance with HUD regulations. However, Bates is likely not the end of the issue because although it is a published decision, it is a decision on a state law issue (breach of contract) and Georgia state courts are not bound by the decision.  As such, this issue could eventually be addressed by Georgia appellate courts which could reach a decision contrary to Bates. 

 

Navigating Tennessee's Trustee Statute 

Written By: Ryan Martinez, Associate

 

As one of the basic steps in the Tennessee foreclosure process, the current beneficiary of a Deed of Trust is required to appoint a successor trustee by filing a Substitution of Trustee (commonly referred to as a "SOT").  Tennessee statute 35-5-114 sets out the general requirements surrounding the SOT, including the timing of when it should be recorded in the county where the property is located.  However, there are two portions of this statute that appear to contradict one another regarding the specific timing of when the SOT is required to be recorded.

 

One subsection states that "[a] substitute of trustee shall be recorded prior to any sale".  T.C.A. 35-5-114(c).  Yet, another subsection states that the SOT "shall be recorded prior to the deed evidencing sale".  T.C.A. 35-5-114(b)(3)(A).  Not surprisingly, these two portions of the statute have created some confusion as to the latest acceptable point when the SOT must be recorded.

 

Given the contradictory language in the statute, we decided to conduct further research on this topic.  We contacted a local Tennessee underwriter at a major title insurance company to get their opinion on the two differing ways in which this statute can be interpreted for the timing of recording the SOT.  The underwriter was able to clarify that the language in the statute can be consistently read as meaning that the SOT has to be recorded prior to the recording of the deed evidencing the sale.  In Tennessee, this deed is called the Substitute Trustee's Deed or simply the foreclosure deed.  Therefore, the SOT can be recorded at any point, including after the sale has been held, as long as it is recorded before the foreclosure deed.

 

To continue reading, click here.  

 

Title Insurance Considerations Affecting Deed in Lieu of Foreclosure 

Written By: Jeff Horn, Associate

 

Because of the voluntary nature and cost-efficiency of the deed in lieu foreclosure, this type of transaction is often a win-win situation for the borrower and lender.  When deciding whether to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure, the first question that a lender typically asks is whether there are any subordinate liens attached to the secured real property.   Since a foreclosure generally extinguishes subordinate liens and a deed in lieu of foreclosure does not extinguish such interests, in a case where there are subordinate liens, a lender often faces the tough decision whether to accept a deed in lieu of foreclosure.   It must balance the costs and benefits between negotiating with the holders of the subordinate liens in order to proceed with a deed in lieu of foreclosure versus foregoing the deed in lieu of foreclosure in favor of a foreclosure proceeding.   While the existence of subordinate liens is an important consideration, there are other important factors that a lender should consider during the deed in lieu of foreclosure process.  There are circumstances where courts will set aside a deed in lieu conveyance, and the mere risk of such judicial scrutiny affects whether title to real property is insurable after a deed in lieu of foreclosure.       

 

To continue reading, click here

 

How Much is Enough?  

Courts Grapple with "Full Authority to Modify" Language

Written By: Bret Chaness, Associate   

 

Foreclosure litigation in Georgia continues to center around the statutory requirement, found in O.C.G.A. 44-16-162.2(a), that states that a notice of foreclosure sale "shall include the name, address, and telephone number of the individual or entity who shall have full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage with the debtor." Borrowers often try to argue that a loan servicer who is identified as this entity lacks "full authority" because they can only modify within guidelines set forth by the investor, or must get approval from the investor before modifying a loan.

 

In 2010, the Georgia Court of Appeals held in TKW Partners, LLC v. Archer Capital Fund, L.P., 302 Ga. App. 443, 691 S.E.2d 300 (2010), that substantial compliance with the "full authority" provision is all that is required. In that case, the notice of sale identified the attorney that "represented [the creditor] and had as much authority as any individual to negotiate a loan modification on [the creditor's] behalf, but that there was no individual at [the creditor] with full authority to modify the loan because 'it would be a group decision . . . there's not a magic name . . . there's not one individual." 302 Ga. App. at 445. Two years later, the Georgia Court of Appeals affirmed TKW Partners and held that a foreclosure notice was sufficient when it provided contact information for the secured creditor's attorney who did not have full authority to modify the loan, but was only "authorized to receive communications from the debtor, to convey them to the bank, to make recommendations, and to convey the bank's position to the debtor." Stowers v. Branch Banking & Trust Co., 317 Ga. App. 893, 895, 731 S.E.2d 367 (2012). Thus, based on TKW Partners and Stowers, it would appear that creditors have little to worry about so long as their foreclosure notices contain contact information for anybody that has a line of communication to the creditor.

 

However, the Georgia Supreme Court, in You v. JP Morgan Chase Bank, 293 Ga. 67, 743 S.E.2d 428 (2013) held that the plain language of the statute requires that the individual or entity with full authority be identified and that "the statute requires no more and no less." Id. at 75. The "no more and no less" has led some borrowers' attorneys to argue that strict compliance is now required.

Nevertheless, there is no known case since You that has found that strict compliance is required. Instead, both the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and the Georgia Court of Appeals have continued to adhere to the substantial compliance standard. In Carr v. U.S. Bank, N.A., 534 F. App'x 878 (11th Cir. 2013), the Eleventh Circuit held that the identification of a loan servicer was proper under the substantial compliance standard. And just last week, the Georgia Court of Appeals reaffirmed that TKW Partners and Stowers are still good law. Peters v. CertusBank Nat'l Ass'n, ___ Ga. App. ____, ___ S.E.2d ____, No. A14A1274, 2014 WL 4400769 (Ga. Ct. App. Sept. 8, 2014) (physical precedent only).

 

While Peters may appear to allow creditors to breathe a sigh of relief, it is almost certainly not the end of litigation over this issue.  Rubin Lublin will continue to monitor the case law as it develops.

  

 

Integrated Closing Disclosures in the Pipeline
Written By: Cristina Marrero

Traditionally, Federal law has required lenders to provide two different disclosure forms to consumers applying for a mortgage. However, these forms were complex and confusing not only to consumers but also difficult to explain by the lenders.  As a consequence, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has released new guidelines which will become effective August 1, 2015.  These forms will replace the Good Faith Estimate, Truth-in-Lending statement and the HUD-1.

 

The first new form is the Loan Estimate, designed to provide consumers a better understanding of the mortgage loan for which they are applying.  The form contains loan terms, projected payments, costs at closing table, and a link for consumers to obtain more information.  Consumers can also use this form to compare the costs and features of different loans.  The Loan Estimate must be provided to consumers, either by hand or placed in the mail, no later than three business days after they submit a loan application. If circumstances have changed, a revised Loan Estimate must be delivered or placed in the mail within three business days of the lender's knowledge of a changed circumstance.  However, the revised form must be received by the borrower no later than four business days before consummation of the loan.


 
The Closing Disclosure form provides a list of disclosures that will be helpful to consumers in understanding all of the costs of the transaction.  The Closing Disclosure must be provided to consumers three business days before they close on the loan.  If the creditor makes significant changes between the time the Closing Disclosure form is given and the closing, a new form and an additional three-business-day waiting period must be provided to the consumer. Less significant changes can be disclosed on a revised form which must be received by the consumer at or before closing, without delaying the closing.

 

To continue reading, click here.

 

Rubin Lublin in Pictures

Here's a look at some of the partners, attorneys and staff that make up our foreclosure department during a recent team building activity.  Don't hesitate to reach out if you need any of us!

  

 

 

 

Various members of our firm and their family participating in a local 5K run raising money for Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

 

Happy Fall Y'all,
  
Lauren Iddins
Marketing Director
770.246.3353
Rubin Lublin, LLC
3740 Davinci Court
Suite 150
Peachtree Corners, GA 30092
www.rubinlublin.com