Mass. Court Rules Against Banks

January 7th, 2011
in Background

Foreclosure PicReuters:  In a decision that may affect foreclosures nationwide, Massachusetts' highest court voided the seizure of two homes by Wells Fargo & Co and U.S. Bancorp after the banks failed to show they held the mortgages at the time they foreclosed.

Bank shares fell, dragging down the broader stock market, after the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on Friday issued its decision, which upheld a lower court ruling.

Follow up:

The unanimous decision is among the earliest to address the validity of foreclosures done without proper documentation. That issue last year prompted an uproar that led lenders such as Bank of America Corp, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Ally Financial Inc to temporarily stop seizing homes.

"A ruling like this will slow down the foreclosure process" for banks, said Marty Mosby, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities. "They're going to have to be really precise and get everything in order. It doesn't leave a lot of wiggle room."

Wells Fargo and U.S. Bancorp lacked authority to foreclose after having "failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure," Justice Ralph Gants wrote for the Massachusetts court.

In a concurring opinion, Justice Robert Cordy lambasted "the utter carelessness" that the banks demonstrated in documenting their right to own the properties.   Read more at Reuters......

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