A demand to banks to provide proof of mortgage ownership
A union, tapping into discontent and anxiety about financial institutions' record-keeping on mortgage matters, has launched a webpage helping borrowers "demand to see the original note" that shows who owns their loan.
In two weeks, about 100,000 people have made requests through the site, according to the Service Employees International Union.
The site, wheresthenote.com, sums up the situation this way:
"Mortgages contain lots of paperwork – but only the original mortgage note with your signature is proof that you owe the debt. That’s why banks need the note to prove that they own the loan and can collect payments from you. The problem is, banks now buy and sell mortgages up and down Wall Street – slicing them up and repackaging them to sell to other banks. The bank you bought your mortgage from two years ago may not be the bank that owns it today. But, in all the shuffle, the mortgage notes often don’t get transferred along with your debt."
Stephen Lerner, director of SEIU's bank and finance campaign, says homeowners across the country "are wondering who owns their mortgage, can the bank prove they own the mortgage, are there original notes or not?" Financial institutions' responses to borrowers' requests have begun coming in, and they vary from "here's the documentation" to "we have to research this," he said.
"Legally, they have to respond," he added.
Lerner said the "Where's The Note?" campaign has a larger point beyond connecting borrowers with information about their mortgages.
"Banks need to start massively modifying mortgages, and that's the way to stabilize the economy," he said. "There is, all over the country, sort of a growing movement of homeowners, not just people being foreclosed on but people who are underwater, people whose communities are in desperate economic shape, who are joining together and saying, 'The banks got us in this mess and now they have to help fix it.'"
Some might be interested in seeing the documentation on their mortgages without favoring massive modifications, and vice versa. So I'm curious to hear what you think of the "show me the mortgage note" campaign and its larger goal.
As people argue over foreclosure procedures and what's best for the economy, Bloomberg Businessweek is offering up an interesting -- and distressing -- piece of commentary about how clear proof of ownership is a bedrock part of what makes Western capitalism work. "That's why the burgeoning foreclosure mess in the U.S. strikes at the nation's economic heart," writes economics editor Peter Coy.
He's suggesting, in essence, that sorting this out properly is of critical importance for all Americans, or at least those who think capitalism is a good idea. Do you agree?