In March, an Alabama court said J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. couldn’t foreclose on Phyllis Horace, a delinquent homeowner in Phenix City, Ala., because her loan hadn’t been properly assigned to its owners—a trust that represents investors—when it was securitized by Bear Stearns Cos. The mortgage assignment showed that the loan hadn’t been transferred to the trust from the subprime lender that originated it.
Banks trying to foreclose on homeowners are hitting another roadblock, as some delinquent borrowers are successfully arguing that their mortgage companies can’t prove they own the loans and therefore don’t have the right to foreclose.
These “show me the paper” cases have been winding through the courts for several years. But in recent months, some judges have been siding with borrowers and stopping foreclosures after concluding that banks’ paperwork problems are more serious than previously thought and raise broader ethical questions.
This year, cases in California, North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Massachusetts and others have raised questions about whether banks properly demonstrated ownership.