One homeowner's journey through the securitized mortgage maze
One journey through the mortgage maze
April Charney, an attorney with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and other lawyers are fighting home foreclosures on the grounds that it can be impossible to tell who has the right to foreclose and collect the debt on loans that have been sold, bundled into securities and sold to investors. Many loans have changed hands so often that struggling homeowners like Ed Taylor, a retired Hillsborough County insurance adjuster, are unable to find anyone to deal with as they try to renegotiate their mortgages. But the confusion also means that Taylor and others are able to stay in their homes for months or even years without making a payment. Susan Taylor Martin, Times Senior Correspondent
Oct. 4, 2005: Taylor gets a $116,000 loan from Argent Mortgage, a subprime lender based in California.
2005 or 2006: Taylor's loan is bundled with hundreds of other subprime loans into an "Argent Securities Asset-Backed Pass-Through Certificate,'' which is sold to investors. Taylor continues to make his $880 monthly payments to Argent.
Aug. 31, 2007: Citigroup buys Argent and the right to collect on $45 billion in Argent home loans, including Taylor's. He starts making payments to a Citigroup subsidiary, Citi Residential Lending.
Fall 2007: When Taylor misses a payment because of a serious illness, he contacts Citi to make the first of several attempts to modify his mortgage. He says he repeatedly writes to Citi and offers to pay what he can on his loan, but never hears anything back.
April 3, 2008: Deutsche Bank, as trustee for Pass-Through Certificate Series 2006-W25, files a notice of lis pendens — the first step in foreclosure — against Taylor in Hillsborough Circuit Court. However, there is nothing in the county's official records to show that Argent or Citi Residential ever assigned Taylor's note to Deutsche Bank, which would give Deutsche the legal right to foreclose and collect the debt.
April 16, 2008: Nearly two weeks after Deutsche Bank starts foreclosing, Citi Residential assigns the mortgage and note to Deutsche. But the document filed by Citi shows Taylor's loan as part of Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2005-W5, not 2006-W25. (A letter Taylor got from Deutsche's law firm has yet a third serial number. "There are a lot of mistakes,'' a Deutsche attorney told the St. Petersburg Times.)
July 29, 2008: Deutsche Bank files a motion for final judgment of foreclosure.
February, 2009: American Home Mortgage Servicing, a Texas company, buys the rights from Citi Residential to collect payments on 185,000 loans, including Taylor's.
March 10, 2009: Deutsche Bank cancels a hearing on its motion for final judgment of foreclosure, but gives no reason. The case remains open.
Taylor has now remained in the house for almost two years without making a payment.