Skip to comments.Wall Street warns against using eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages
Posted on 08/19/2012 4:44:06 PM PDT by Libloather
Wall Street warns against using eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages
By Peter Schroeder - 08/19/12 05:00 PM ET
Heavy hitters in the financial industry are lining up against a new idea brewing among local government officials to help struggling homeowners by seizing control of their mortgages through eminent domain.
With many areas of the country still digging out from the housing crisis, some local governments are considering taking on the underwater mortgages at a substantially lower price, thus making them more affordable for the borrower.
With policymakers at the federal, state and local level struggling to find a way to relieve the burden of unaffordable home loans, the eminent domain idea is being met with open ears.
The receptive response to the idea has put the financial sector on high alert. Firms are warning that a governmental action to seize private property to reduce its value could throw the entire housing market off kilter.
This is just completely against what is the national interest in terms of mortgage finance, said Chris Killian, a managing director for the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). Its just completely wrong in our view.
Joseph Pigg, vice president and senior counsel in mortgage finance for the American Bankers Association, said the idea could have devastating consequences.
If they were to exercise eminent domain, youre going to just completely destroy the securitization market, he said.
The idea is the brainchild of a private company, Mortgage Resolution Partners, which would receive a flat fee for each loan it helps a government identify and buy.
Although the housing sector has shown some life recently, the market has been a drag on the economy and a detriment to the economy since the bubble burst in 2007.
Consumer and community groups have pleaded with lawmakers and regulators for initiatives that would relieve the burden of underwater homeowners. And using the power of eminent domain to seize underwater mortgages could give governments the chance to provide direct relief.
The county of San Bernardino, Calif., is studying the idea, as is the county of Suffolk, N.Y.
But the industry views it as an affront to the nature of capital markets, since the plan would require private holders to absorb substantial losses on mortgage-backed securities.
If the plan gains legs, Killian said, mortgage lenders are going to be that much more careful about extending mortgages, lest their value be reduced by the government if homeowners get into trouble.
Lenders are going to react and underwrite defensively to protect themselves, he said.
Industry efforts to throw cold water on the idea have gotten a boost from two separate sources.
Financial firms were quick to trumpet a statement released earlier this month by the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), which oversees mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In it, the regulator said it had significant concerns about the proposals, and that it would consider taking action of some sort to block the initiatives if necessary.
We were glad to see the FHFA do this because this needs to be raised up to the federal level, said Pigg.
And on Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he did not support the idea either, after it was discussed at a city committee hearing.
The idea of using eminent domain is not one I support ... because I don't think it's the right way to address the problem," he said, according to Crains Chicago Business.
"I don't think it is the power of the city to deal with the housing issue. We have a national issue. I think we have to address the issue. I just don't think that is the right instrument."
While the idea may still just be percolating at the local level, the conversation may soon make its way to Washington. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) asked Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner about the idea in July, at an unrelated hearing held by the House Financial Services Committee.
Geithner said his team was carefully looking into the idea. But at the same time, he cautioned that it comes with a lot of complicated legal and policy questions, adding that there are a broad range of tools available to help struggling homeowners.
i presume citizens of ATLANTIS are concerned.
Who’s this Wall street guy and who appointed him to warn us about anything?
Did Wall Street warn us about pumping 100’s of billions of dollars into TARP relief?
Banks should be bending over backwards to help fix the mortgage lending crisis. It’s better to get 65% of your money back then 20% — oh, that’s right, they think the tax payers should foot that bill because they’re too big to fail.
This is such a terrible idea, i can’t believe any sane person would support it.
They’ll take it over and trade to China for our debt.
But ... I heard NPR say wonderful things about this plan ...
“Firms are warning that a governmental action to seize private property to reduce its value could throw the entire housing market off kilter.”
Can’t have financial markets thrown off kilter now. Kind of like that TARP thingy did.
I don’t agree with using emminent domain for this. But I can’t say I’d lose much sleep over it if it were to happen. Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch.
This is a link to Mortgage Resolution Partners management:
Our Founding Fathers would have started shooting by now.
1. If property owner in arrears on property taxes, local jurisdiction can lien or take said property.
2. If oproperty owner in arrears on mortgage loan, local jurisdiction is NOT a party to that contract, so has no business meddling in my opinion.
3. Re 2. above, it must be they claim the jurisdiction can take property under eminent domain, per Kelo decision whereby city/jurisdiction can take property for anything they want, to get more property taxes, to change uses, to remediate so called blight, which is often completely abused.
If the property owner is arrears on the mortgage loan, they are most likely in arrears on the property taxes and thus the local jurisdiction is a party to the contract........
With that said — this is a truly scary concept.
My husband and I went 3 years without a steady/reliable income and the worst we got was 6 months behind on the mortgage - bad, I know - but we finally got it all square.
I’d never heard of eminent domain being used for this before.
“Banks should be bending over backwards to help fix the mortgage lending crisis. Its better to get 65% of your money back then 20% “
So we should politicize the process with local politicians beholden to the local electorate intruding on the contractual agreements made with national banks and investors so they can win favor with their electorate.Should you live in such a local jurisdiction, do you not think any bank with sense will not raise the level of mortgage rates in that jurisdiction to compensate for such onerous intrusion and perhaps redline the entire area refusing all future loans in the jurisdiction. I sure would if I did not want to guarantee loan losses in the loan portfolio.
Big Banks vs Big Government: And we lose.
Means we got more bailouts and higher taxes coming
“If the property owner is arrears on the mortgage loan, they are most likely in arrears on the property taxes and thus the local jurisdiction is a party to the contract........”
I guess you missed the meaning of what I said. Mortgage and taxes are two separate matters, and the city is NOT a party to the MORTGAGE contract. I know, I’m a real estate broker.
Cities do NOT use eminent domain to place a tax lien on property for delinquent taxes, they use a tx lien, and at some date may sell for taxes.
The concept of eminent domain is separate from taxes and separate from mortgages.
Which implies that they are not protecting themselves now. Why would an entity operate against their own interests?
The Community Reinvestment Act.
FTA: "The mortgage industry created MERS to allow financial institutions to evade county recording fees,
Is this is how they will finance their land grab?
The slippery slope is turning into a sheer drop.