banks

All posts tagged banks

Foreclosure is not a fun process.

Losing your house for any reason is a stressful, disheartening experience. And banks are notoriously difficult to deal with. Mainly because they’re not really interested in working out a deal with you. Especially if you have equity in your house.

That being said, I’m greatly amused by people who get the better end of the foreclosure process, especially when it comes to Bank of America. (I’m not a big fan of Bank of America – I have my reasons…)

Bank of America filed for foreclosure on a house in Florida, about six months ago. The strange thing was that the homeowners, Mr & Mrs. Nyergers, owned their home free and clear. They had bought their house with cash. They had never had a mortgage on it.

In court the judge found the bank wrongfully tried to foreclose on them. Basically he said BofA was trying to scam them out of their home, and ordered the bank to pay their legal fees.

So how did the couple end up foreclosing on the bank?

After more than 5 months of the judge’s ruling, the bank still hadn’t paid the legal fees, and the homeowner’s attorney did exactly what the bank tried to do to the homeowners. He seized the bank’s assets.

According to CBS, the attorney said, “They’ve ignored our calls, ignored our letters, legally this is the next step to get my clients compensated.”

Sheriff’s deputies, movers, and the Nyergers’ attorney went to the bank and foreclosed on it. The attorney gave instructions to to remove desks, computers, copiers, filing cabinets and any cash in the teller’s drawers.

After about an hour of being locked out of the bank, the bank manager handed the attorney a check for the legal fees.

“As a foreclosure defense attorney this is sweet justice” said Allen.

The unfortunate sad part is that bank errors like this are quite common.

The couple’s foreclosure attorney said he sees happen a lot in court, because banks didn’t investigate the foreclosure and it becomes a lengthy and expensive battle for the homeowner.

At least this story had a happy ending.

Did you know that you Money Market Account could have sub-prime mortgage exposure and thus you could your principle? Did you know that they are also not FDIC insured? Its true, MMA’s invest in RMBS (Real estate Mortgage-Backed Securities) and other SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles). Both RBMS and SIVs can be used to invest in sub-prime or alt-A mortgages, both of which are a risky proposition right now. Maybe even prime mortgages are risky too. With such lax underwriting standards the past few years, it really isn’t a surprise that there are so many defaults occurring.

Another thing to consider is that MMAs are not covered by FDIC.

The fact that FDIC may not even have enough money to pay out all the investors if several banks go under is a separate discussion.

Also, stay away from savings accounts with banks that have significant mortgage exposure. If you have less than the FDIC limit of $100,000 you’ll get your money back, eventually, but its still a hassle.

Banks like Countrywide, which is facing HUGE mortgage-related losses, could fold and unnecessarily tie up your money for several months. Much better to spread your risk around.

I do not have a money market account. And I have my savings spread out between Bank of America, ING Direct, Commerce Bank and Capital One Bank. Maybe I’m being paranoid, but based on the impossible black-swan events that keep occuring in the financial markets, I’d rather be safe than sorry.

In fact, I think keep my cash in a brokerage account with no exposure to mortgage-backed securities may not be a bad idea. Most brokerages are covered by SIPC rules which extend to $500,000. And buying Treasuries, Munis or even Senior Income Trusts like VVR may not be a bad idea!