Author Archives: Christine Springer

Wall Street Working to Dismantle Provisions of Dodd-Frank

There’s a lot to feel optimistic about in 2015 in terms of the economy. There are still a few lingering issues that need to work themselves out, like the job market. Still, a lot of people on Main Street are just now feeling optimistic about the future. They say that the recession ended in 2010, but it’s taken much longer for Main Street to feel like things have improved.

Even as we all want to forget about the recession and focus on the future, I am convinced that we need keep an eye on what’s happening with financial reforms, such as Dodd-Frank. Wall Street is working hard to dismantle provisions that were put in place to keep our financial system sound.

The bankers had a good month in December. There are two situations I want to talk about in this post: First, the delay for banks in implementing the Volcker Rule, and second, the REPEAL (yes, the REPEAL) of the restriction on derivatives trades.

I am disturbed by this, but I’m not sure it’s that’s big of a deal. I’ll tell you more at the end of this post and in a follow up post.

But first, let’s talk about the delay in implementing the Volcker Rule.

The Federal Reserve has granted Wall Street a two year delay in implementing the Volcker Rule. In case you aren’t familiar, banks bought shares in thousands of private equity and venture capital funds before the 2008 financial crisis. The Volcker Rule, named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, was implemented to curb banks’ use of their own funds to make risky bets.

This delay demonstrates the tension between regulators having to enforce the rules meant to keep our financial system safe. How this plays out will be interesting, especially given the tendency for regulators to take jobs on Wall Street after their tenure with the government is up. Enforcing the rules puts regulators in a tough spot.

Banks have complained that Dodd-Frank reforms aren’t workable. The delay will allow banks to keep their billions in private equity and hedge fund investments for at least two more years, although the Fed’s statement indicates they will still have to exit those investments.

The Federal Reserve couched the delay as a way to prevent disruption in the markets from banks exiting those investments. After the two year delay, the Fed said it would grant back-to-back single-year extensions that are authorized by Dodd-Frank.

Volcker himself told Bloomberg, “It is striking, that the world’s leading investment bankers, noted for their cleverness and agility in advising clients on how to restructure companies and even industries however complicated, apparently can’t manage the orderly reorganization of their own activities in more than five years,” Paul Volcker said in an e-mailed statement. “Or, do I understand that lobbying is eternal, and by 2017 or beyond, the expectation can be fostered that the law itself can be changed?”

We all know where this is headed. Now that we have a majority Republican congress, I wouldn’t be surprised to see more repeals of pieces of Dodd Frank. If you care about the economy, you should be paying attention. I think it’s safe to say that the last seven or eight years have been awful for Main Street. I certainly don’t want to see that happen again in my lifetime.

Now, getting to my second point of this post: lawmakers have also REPEALED a restriction on derivatives trades. Wall Street lobbied hard for this victory and December was a good month for them.

According to the NYT, the House of Representatives in December passed a big spending bill that included a roll back of a rule affecting derivatives. This is a “financial product” that contributed to the financial crisis of 2008. I can’t find anything on whether the Senate has voted yet, but the NYT said it expected the Senate to go along with the House.

Is this a big deal? It depends on who you ask.

Slate says this isn’t as big of a win for Wall Street as it sounds. Their opinion was that the repeal opens the door for more meaningful regulation of Wall Street. I will write more about that in another post, because I think it’s good to look at all sides of the argument.

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SCOTUS Sides with Homeowners with TILA Interpretation

SCOTUS Clarifies TILAIn case you missed it, here’s a link to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Jesinowski et ux. v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., et al. I have also embedded the decision below.

This is a nice win for homeowners, because it is the final word on rescission. SCOTUS sided with the homeowners on this one, holding that borrowers exercising their right to rescind mortgages under the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”) only need to provide written notice to creditors within three years of the loan being issued. They are NOT required to bring a lawsuit within that period.

Also, note that SCOTUS only addressed the when of the notice and not the how, because TILA doesn’t say anything about how notice is to be given.

You probably remember that TILA gives borrowers the right to rescind certain loans up to three years after the loans were issued when the borrowers do not receive the required disclosures. TILA provides that a borrower “shall have the right to rescind … by notifying the creditor … of his intention to do so.”

Homeowners rights were expanded under TILA in 1980, and since then, the courts have interpreted the Act differently. That meant that in some federal courts, homeowners were only required to give notice within the three years, and in others they were required to file a lawsuit.

And we all know how those lawsuits fared — most of them were losers for homeowners. How many homeowners raised TILA issues in lawsuits only to be shut down by courts?

Based on my work in foreclosure defense, it seems like much of the changes have happened too late, but perhaps we’ve all paved the way to preventing this from happening to others. And it seemed like 2014 was the turning point for more developed case law.

I’ve seen most of my clients get great outcomes in their cases. Ultimately, I am most happy about the case decisions we’ve seen, like this one and of course, Steinberger. If you fought in the courts and lost (as I did), take heart: each one of those losses has ultimately led to more protections for homeowners.

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Price Increases Coming in 2015

Price Increase Coming in 2015I have decided to give myself a raise by increasing my prices across all services I presently offer.

Not only is it long overdue, but my hope is that higher prices will attract more of the clients I really would like to work with. I’d like to work with more attorneys and borrowers who are motivated to stand up to the bank and who have the resources to do so.

This price increase also reflects a shift in my personal outlook. I am personally ready to “graduate” to some next level experiences around money. I’ve also “paid my dues” and I am feeling more confident about my value proposition to clients.

The prices of the Do It Yourself Mortgage Review resources will also increase at the beginning of 2015. You still have plenty of time to order your products at the current prices before the price goes up. I will post and send out a few reminders. As we get into the holiday season things will get busy so I’d encourage you to make your purchase decision early before your money is allocated toward holiday celebrations.

Use coupon code STEINBERGER* to get 20% off everything for sale on the DIY Mortgage Review site. This coupon is code is going to remain available for an undetermined amount of time and can expire at any time.

I don’t have all the price increase details ironed out yet, so please check back to the About page for more details.

If you would like to purchase a guide, please visit DIYMortgageReview.com.

If you’d like to retain my services, please contact me with the caveat that I cannot give you legal advice, represent you in court, discuss legal strategy, or prepare legal documents for you. To see a list of things I can help you with, visit FIN’s About page.

*To use this promo code visit the DIY Mortgage Review for Borrowers product page and click “Add to Cart.” In the Discount Code box, enter STEINBERGER, and you’ll see the discount subtracted from your total.

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Foreclosures: Where We Are Now, and Who is Still Hanging On

I hope you had a great summer!  I just posted about the Arizona Supreme Court’s denial of the bank’s Petition for Review, and it seemed like a good time for an update. I have personally been busy doing a lot of other things besides foreclosure defense related stuff.

I’ve said this before, but I’m not convinced there is much more that I can contribute to the discussion. I was talking to Barbara Forde about this the other day, and she says there’s more work to be done in Arizona. I am not sure how that looks for me, so for now, know that I will be posting sporadically and probably only when I have something meaningful to say.

With the announcement of the denial of review on Steinberger, it seemed like a good time to reevaluate where things are heading in the foreclosure discussion. Things have definitely settled down and shifted more favorably toward homeowners. I can remember a time when things shifted so rapidly in foreclosure defense that it was sometimes hard to keep up! It’s an interesting contrast.

So where are we now? I think most of us are recovering from the recession. It’s taking a lot of work, longer than we’d all like, and it’s demanding of our time and resources. I am working on several projects that are very rewarding and yet demanding, too. It seems like there is always a lot of work to do and not always enough time to get it all done.

There are a couple of positive indicators of an improving economy. I just saw that the unemployment rate has dropped below 6%, which is very good news. The Fed began tapering this year, and there were some stipulations earlier this year to continue its intervention in the economy as long as unemployment remained above 6%. The car market in the US has also defied expectations of growth for 2014.

My personal foreclosure issues are nearing completion. As you might recall, I won my eviction appeal earlier this year. I attended the bond hearing in late April to get my bond back and the judgment has been vacated. I am presently working on getting the fees back from the bank for prosecuting the appeal, but I expect that to be over very soon. That is the very last issue I have that is related to my foreclosure. It will be good to leave that in the past and although it was difficult, I am pleased with the choices I’ve made.

As far as the case law in Arizona, we’re definitely not in the same place as we were at the beginning of this year. Homeowners who have a good fact pattern and hire a lawyer now have the best shot at getting a fair outcome.

Overall, foreclosures in Arizona are way down. Contrast that with a period of time not that long ago when we all personally knew a handful of people in foreclosure. How many people do you personally know who are in an active foreclosure now? I don’t know of anyone.

Given that foreclosures are greatly reduced, I find it interesting that I continue to get inquiries from a specific type of homeowner. The main people I am still hearing from these days are homeowners who have managed to hang on to their home without making a house payment for years. Sometimes, they haven’t made a house payment in five or more years.

Until late last year, I had never been stiffed by a homeowner for an audit I did in advance. After that, I noticed that nearly all the people who were contacting me were “hangers-on” and all shared the same circumstances.

Some of them are VERY crafty. They are experts at manipulating the laws and procedures in their state to delay their foreclosure. Others are still in their house out of sheer luck. Despite not making house payments for years, most are still not in any better financial position than they were several years ago. Many have just now exhausted all their options.

These “hangers-on” raise so many questions. I imagine that the bank will not foreclose on some of the houses in the worst conditions and markets. My understanding is that the real estate market is improving so I think in most instances the bank was just waiting until it made sense to foreclose.

I hope you’re on the road to recovery and thriving post-recession! Be sure to check out my other blog, Coupons for Paleo!

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Arizona Supreme Court Denies Bank’s Petition for Review in Steinberger

Arizona Supreme Court Denies Bank's Petition for Review in SteinbergerI am pleased to announce that the Arizona Supreme Court has DENIED the bank’s Petition for Review in Steinberger. The denial is embedded below.

The Supreme Court frequently denies certiorari (the term used to deny hearing a case) to cases. If you’ve ever heard the media frenzy over the United State Supreme Court cases, you know they typically only agree to hear a handful each year.

In the instance of the Steinberger decision, this means that the lower court’s decision stands, which means it’s now law in Arizona. The courts are supposed to follow the decision as precedent.

If you haven’t read the Steinberger decision or Barbara Forde’s guest posts about how it changed the laws, you can read Steinberger here and Barbara’s guest post on Steinberger here.

For those of you with shorter attention spans, it’s a great decision for homeowners. It’s particularly personal for me because I worked with Ms. Steinberger on the details of her loan, and she went on to work with Barbara Forde.

There were a couple of times in this case that were awful. I’m not going to dredge all that up, but I feel vindicated after the bumpy ride, even if I have been behind the scenes. I am sure I am crowing as if I did all the work (I definitely did not do all the work!!), but the Steinberger decision means a lot to me personally. I feel especially good about the outcome because it will benefit all Arizona homeowners in future cases.

I have asked Barbara Forde to write another guest post to explain the ramifications of the decision. She says the quiet title argument is dead in Arizona, but I’m going to let her explain that.

I am also going to ask Beth Findsen for an update and I’ll share whatever I can from her. I hear she is having success in applying Steinberger to her foreclosure defense cases.

Stay tuned!

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