Your Take 

Your Take: Should People Get Homes for Free?

Email  Print Print  

ForeclosureIf you’ve been following the latest round in the foreclosure mess, you’ve probably read about how some banks have lost the loan documents for some mortgages. The gist, as I understand it, is that after mortgages were signed, some of the larger banks would enter the data into the MERS registry (which is owned by large banks). The registry helps facilitate the process because banks won’t have to go to the local records office to record the loans, which saves them time. After registering the loans, oftentimes banks shred the paper documents to avoid duplication. (all this I learned from reading Business Week, but I can’t find the nice chart they used)

Well it turns out that last year, March 2009 specifically, a bankruptcy judge in Las Vegas decided MERS could be a beneficiary under a trust deed. Since then, supreme courts in other states found MERS had no standing in foreclosure proceedings under local state laws. Whoops.

Throw in the robo-signatures debacle and you create an environment that invites a little extraordinary situations… like people getting their homes for free because of clerical error (a broad term, I agree). A judge on Long Island erased a $292,500 debt and awarded a home to a family after he “concluded that a mortgage company’s paperwork in a foreclosure case was so flawed and its behavior in negotiations with the borrower so ‘repugnant’.”

I believe that you should do what’s right and giving someone a home for free because a company acted badly is a little too far. That said, if a company is willing to act in that manner, maybe an example should be made. One of the downsides of the internet is a reduction in personal relationships. People used to know their mortgage lender, their insurance agent, and the folks they banked with. Now it’s all about business only, transactions, and getting the cheapest possible… so this is a natural result.

What do you think?

(Photo: andrewbain)

{ 53 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

Related Posts

RSS Subscribe Like this article? Get all the latest articles sent to your email for free every day. Enter your email address and click "Subscribe." Your email will only be used for this daily subscription and you can unsubscribe anytime.

53 Responses to “Your Take: Should People Get Homes for Free?”

  1. This is tricky. The judge awarded the house to the homeowner, substantially because the mortgage company behavior was ‘repugnant.’ Clearly, that’s an opinion and not a standard.

    Yet, I like the example. Something must be done to get the attention of those who fraudulently foreclose – when they lack the right to do that. The mortgage company/bank chose to bundle and sell the mortgages. Thus, it does not own these mortgages and cannot foreclose.

    I blogged on this topic today.


  2. Austin says:

    Do you know what is really sad? Many of these people who were foreclosed on, are now homeless. Meanwhile all of these places are now bank owned and going to rot.

    • Judi says:

      These people are NOT homeless. They can move to an apartment. They bought houses they could not afford with little down. It is as if they were renters in their own home the whole time.

      • Gail says:

        That is the misconception that all the foreclosures were minimun down payment loans, yes many were but many were not. Many have lost jobs and income and after two years still no jobs in sight or they are over 60 and can’t get hired for anything and had to refinance their homes to be able to stay in them thinking they could sell them or find a job soon and voila “not so.” There would not be so many homes in foreclosure if something else weren’t admiss. No, not all these homes are small downpayment situations! There is way more too it then that!

      • jet says:

        “These people” did not ALL buy their homes with the intent of not paying their mortgage loans back. We were very very qualified home buyers. We were paying off the house in half the time it was scheduled to be. Then the economy crashed. Our business lost out and we we’ve been practically income-less for the past 3 years. Don’t make blanket statements about this situation. It is complex and very sad. Walking in our shoes (the ones losing their lives) for just one year could make a difference in your opinion- because then you would see the whole truth of this terrible situation Americans are in. Most of US are incapacitated today. No money to start over, living with relatives, or in campers, or renting for the rest of our lives- out of a suitcase due to foreclosures, joblessness, floods, tornadoes, fires. THis all requires compassion, but most are buying into the news on TV. O well. Have a nice day.

    • SoonerNATX says:

      NO. what is really sad is that i pay all of my bills on time and included in my bills are adjustment increases to allow for the recovery of bad debt due to people that cant afford to pay their bills but continue to use the services.

      • Melissa says:

        I totally agree. My fiance pays all his bills on time after his $2000 a month child support payment. He left his ex-wife EVERYTHING in the divorce. She simply quit paying any and everything with his name on it. She is on government aid, gets child support, works under the table (her bank statements showed an access of $8000.00 in one month of deposits), and after letting her car get repoed (his name and hers, so she filed bankruptcy so she wouldn’t be responsible for anything owing, so he is court ordered to pay $9000.00 for her vehicle), and she is just now making car payments on her new guessed it, 20 dollars a month cheaper than the other vehicle. She CAN pay her mortgage, but she has chosen not to in over 2 years. HIS credit is ruined even though HE pays he bills and obligations. No one has thrown her out OR held her accountable for vengeful actions. So, letting people stay for free that long IS absolutely insane. I suppose I should go get a house I can’t afford and just quit paying.

  3. SoonerNATX says:

    To me this is easy but I have been saying it since 2008. Let the banks bite the bullet on this. This is the consequence of sucking at business. Unfortunately noone wants to take responsibility and that is why you see a lawsuit for EVERYTHING.

  4. live green says:

    My opinion is that the banks should have to pay up if they make a mistake. I know it feels like it’s unfair treatment to those who lost their homes and were not as lucky, but the banks must own up for their mistakes. If we let them get away with these types of things, they are going to continue to make these “clerical errors”. If it were the flipside and we who own the loans make errors by not paying on time or not paying at all, the banks are not going to let that go without repercussion.

    • Jim says:

      Pay up by giving someone a free house? Seems extreme don’t you think?

      • live green says:

        I definitely agree with your point Jim that it is a steep price to pay. The only other way that I can think of to penalize the bank for having these errors is to either fine or penalize them in some one. In either situation, the person who went through the foreclosure may not have been given a fair shot because of shoddy or fraudulent foreclosure paperwork. If something like this does happy, I still think that the banks should be held accountable. We do not want to let them get to the point where they are doing what they please and no longer following any of the rules.

      • ParatrooperJJ says:

        If the chain of title to the mortgage is broken then there is no longer a mortgage anymore. Pretty basic property law there.

      • SoonerNATX says:

        Its along the same lines as other businesses. If i mess up your order you might get your food for free.
        besides how else are you truly going to punish them? have the government fine them? seriously?
        This is a steeper price than what the government would impose and therefore it will make a better impact.
        just be thankful they werent serving mcdonalds coffee!

        • billsnider says:

          If they go out of business from your harsh treatment – then what?

          A free cup of coffeee is a whole lot different than a free house.

          Bill Snider

  5. Matt K says:

    My whole beef from the beginning of all these bailouts.

    I haven’t missed one payment, and have been responsible with my loans.

    where’s my free house?

    meanwhile, people who went into foreclosure at just the right time are going to get a free house?

    Anyways, a lot of people are bringing up “make an example” and that’s all and good in a world that’s run by fear, but in a judicial system, it means that it sets a precedent, and every other case that’s like it ends up being free…
    It ends up being not only “making an example” so that banks don’t do it anymore, but it’s more like “making an example” for every other case to follow.

    And while how a lot of personal interactions and the way they conducted business was probably messed up, I don’t blame banks to try to go paperless. save some trees. They just need make sure they stay within the laws. And if they weren’t going to… they needed to get them updated to be more 21st century friendly.

    • Jim says:

      That’s very true. Also remember that these people who miss payments are having their credit history and scores trashed. It’ll be very expensive, perhaps impossible, for them to get loans for other things like a car.

      You don’t want to be bailed out. It seems like “free money” but it hurts the entire time through.

    • Steven says:

      Responsibility is boring… that’s why there so few of us that are responsible compared to the irresponsible.

    • freeby50 says:

      “They just need make sure they stay within the laws. And if they weren’t going to… they needed to get them updated to be more 21st century friendly.”

      Kinda sounds like you’re saying if the banks aren’t going to obey the law then the laws should just be changed. If thats your meaning then I strongly disagree.

  6. Other Jim says:

    So, did the judge who erased the $292,500 debt also send a 1099 for that amount to the home owner(winner)as taxable income?

    • billsnider says:

      Good point. The person who got the free home would howl over the thought of having to pay income taxes.

      Bill Snider

    • NewPerspective says:

      Punitive judgments are considered taxable income, so yes, they should owe taxes on the entire amount! Great point that many people miss!

      I’m assuming they got a mortgage on their home to pay the taxes. LOL

  7. Anonymous says:


    When you use loaded language like “should people get homes for free,” of course it sounds ridiculous.

    Here are some more ridiculous examples:

    Children get $850K for free! Investors get 1.5 million dollars for free! Govt gets 1.376 trillion for free!

    Here are the rest of the stories: The father of the children was killed by another driver in an accident. The investors were defrauded by illegal boiler room operations. The government was fraudulently billed by HCA for medical services. It wasn’t free money; it was compensation for fraudulent or negligent behavior

    First, IANAL.

    It’s an established part of our legal system that if you can prove to a jury that you have been caused harm by another, and that other person could reasonably have prevented that harm or the harm was intentional or illegal, you can be compensated. That compensation can take two forms: compensatory damages and punitive damages.

    Compensatory damages are to reimburse you for losses you incurred. Punitive damages are to punish the offending party and to provide an incentive for them to stop the wrongful behavior. (Let’s set aside for this post the argument about whether or not damages are excessive. They may or may not be, but that doesn’t negate the fact that a plaintiff can be awarded damages.)

    There is a reasonable strong case to be made that the actions of the foreclosing banks are not just simple clerical errors. The banks and mortgage servicers and mortgage trusts and MERS did not follow legal requirements for the mortgage backed securities that they were required to follow. ( And in presenting these robo-signed (i.e. falsified) documents, the foreclosing banks and lawyers are committing fraud against the courts and the borrowers.

    Now, the case cited in the original post does not seem to involve any of that kind of fraud. But according to the original article the bank did engage in some possible fraudulent activities.

    So, like the other judgments listed above, the couple is not getting their house for “free.” The judge determined that the bank had caused some harm to the couple and decided to sanction the bank.

    And if you think the “free” house is excessive, the bank, OneWest, recently reported profits of 1.6 billion. So a $500K judgement represents .03% of their profits. The bank probably spent more than that on lawyers. Doesn’t sound excessive to me, sounds like justice.

  8. Jaye says:

    The people whose records were destroyed and who were paying their mortgages until they lost the means to do so should be given the homes for the amount they’ve paid into the loan so far.

    The downside is if this becomes a ‘law’ others would deliberately stop paying so that they can benefit as well. Then the economic problems would worsen.

  9. NessaMae says:

    I’m honestly sick of everyone blaming this all on the banks. Now, I do not work for a bank but I do believe that some of the blame and responsibility goes to the person who signed for the loan. It is their responsibility to look at what they can and can not afford and make choices accordingly. I was looking at homes for a long time and could not afford anything until the prices went down. And only at that point did I decide to be a home owner. I feel like too many people today are quick to blame others for their mistakes.

    I am not saying that the banks are not to blame at all but sometimes we have to admit that we share some of the responsibility.

    • Demi says:

      Nessa…I agree with you 100%. The problem with banks though…it isn’t their money. It’s ours. The bailout shows exactly how much it hurt many people’s retirement. But what did it cost the banks and those behind the doors that make the decisions…nothing. Banks are a necessary evil. A middle man. They produce nothing for the GDP. They get a ‘cut’ of the action for handling the biz transaction…nothing more. When they take a loss…the people take a loss. To them it is only biz and whether the home owner is put on the street or not…it isn’t their problem. It becomes ours. Society is getting pretty full of these entities that are blame free, at no fault of their owns, and those that refuse to take responsibility for their actions. As more emerge, they cover one another too. Politicians who should be writing legislation to protect the taxpayer…aren’t. I’ve taken the stance that because I am a responsible person, I can enjoy the fact that I have never missed or even been late on a payment. I also enjoy a credit score over 800. And I don’t have to worry about bill collectors knocking on my door. These are only ‘feel good’ awards but it sure beats the other end of the scale! My thought is I am glad for what I have AND I work hard to protect it. Let them have their free homes. Like those that hit the lottery and pee it away…it’ll come back around on them. It is almost guaranteed.

  10. Meredith says:

    A mortgage is a contract. If the bank breached their contractual duty by failing to provide clear and proper title work, the remedy is that they lose rights to claim a mortgage/the property. The bank holds mortgagees to the contract by foreclosing if they fail to live up to their contractual obligation (making payments). So why should a banks breach not be held to the same standard.

  11. freeby50 says:

    People who don’t pay their mortgage should not get free houses. But banks shouldn’t get to seize houses they don’t have legal rights to. The banks need to get their act together and then they can foreclose.

    I wouldn’t be erasing debts entirely but that case cited sounds more like the bank lawyers really annoyed the judge and thats not smart.

    If banks don’t have the right paperwork then they should not be allowed to simply take houses. Thats basic law, you can’t simply claim property without a proper legal right to it. If courts allowed that then there would be nothing to stop a bank from (intentionally or accidentally) foreclosing on a home that had no mortgage at all.

    I’m not saying that foreclosure should be stopped if a bank didn’t cross all their t’s and dot all their i’s. But if they have no actual contract in hand and they have 3rd parties doing the foreclosure and ‘executives’ signing paperwork they never read then thats a different matter.

  12. freeby50 says:

    Here’s a couple examples of what banks did cited in the Washington Post article:

    “the paperwork transferring the mortgage to the bank was dated two days after the foreclosure was initiated.”

    “questioned why the employee who signed many of the documents claimed to be a vice president of several different mortgage companies at the same time.”

    “cited the bank’s “duplicity” in offering a forbearance agreement with a deadline that had already passed and for presenting contradictory paperwork claiming different amounts for what the family owed.”

    Not minor stuff.

  13. TNBuilder says:

    I have been responsible and never missed or even been over 30 days on my mortgage. It is without a doubt a ‘predatory’ type of mortgage and I was not knowledgeable enough to realize what I was getting into at the time. the mortgage holder will not adjust the mortgage unless I go into default and then no guarantee and I ruin my credit completely. The banks and mortgage companies must be held to the highest standard, since they got our country into this mess in the first place. If they cannot do their own paperwork, how are we, as lay people, supposed to understand it.

  14. Marcie says:

    I’m not sure about the details of this case, but it seems to me that a more responsible outcome would have been to award the family a financial settlement but not actually give them the house for free. Even though the end result may financially be the same, it is a poor precedent to set to give someone who entered into a loan a free ride.

  15. TaJ says:

    If the only options on the table are giving someone a free house and letting the property ownership system of this country be corrupted by the banks, then free house every time. Our firm system of property rights is the reason democracy works – and the only reason democracy works, if you compare us to nations that don’t have a strong respect for property rights.

    Get the government to put some more options on the table so we don’t have to choose between suck and fail!

  16. jared says:

    I don’t believe that people should get their homes for free. However I do believed that the banks should be penalized for acting in bad faith.

    The world would not be in this financial mess if the banks didn’t just lend money to people that didn’t qualify in the first place.
    However there are exceptions to everything.

    There should be a task force to review the foreclosures and if they find the bank to be in the wrong, then banks should be penalized and award families with a set amount with interest.

    Thats just my opinion.

  17. govenar says:

    I think you made a typo; you probably meant “MERS couldn’t be a beneficiary” (based on the article), which makes more sense.

    The issue of not having a physical piece of paper seems kinda silly to me. When I make an online transfer to a bank 2000 miles away, should I be forced to physically go there and sign a piece of paper? Banks, etc figured out how to handle this stuff electronically a while ago. If the law hasn’t caught up to reality yet, I think it’ll be changed soon.

  18. zapeta says:

    I don’t think that people should get their homes for free. That being said, if one of these huge banks that caused this mess has to hand over a house and is out 200k you won’t find me crying about it. They made the bad business decision, that’s their problem.

    • tbork84 says:

      That’s a very good point. It is hard to feel any sympathy for a bank at this stage of the game. The real problem with people being awarded houses due to faulty paperwork and other endings rather than foreclosure on a home is that it convinces more people to stop paying their mortgage.

      The house of cards gets shakier with every one of these revelations of the problems with our mortgage system in this country. And as soon as enough people decide to see if they can game the system, then the entire economy will really hit the wall.

  19. Don C says:

    When I entered into mortgages here in NY, I signed a million documents in triplicate. The bank can’t back track the loan to even one of those documents to prove the loan exists? Free house? Reprehensible. Just another case of people taking advantage of a bad system for ill-gotten gains. Why not subpenoa the homeowner and get them to prove they bought the house without a mortgage and/or prove the mortgage is paid off. Take responsibility for actions people!!! Bad karma will come over those homeowners for milking the system. Enjoy your free house. The rest of us will pay for it.

  20. Terry Kinder says:

    Everyone should take a read at the mortgage / foreclosure related articles available on

    Matt Taibbi also has a very good article at Rolling Stone on how the courts are allowing fraudulent foreclosures to go through the court system in Florida.

    The point is not to let or not let anyone get a “free” house.

    The point is that our current economic crisis is in large part due to the banks fraudulently inducing loans that they knew could not be repaid. They then repackaged these loans as mortgage backed securities and misrepresented them to investors under representations and warranties.

    In the securitization process, they used MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems to attmpt to avoid paying the legally required fees to localities to make the required changes to the titles/notes for the homes. It’s complex, but the banks hoped to avoid paying the fees and needed to delay these changes in order to assign the mortgages into tranches of various investment grades.

    In the process of using MERS the chains of title for these mortgages was broken. Each time the title or note to the house changes hands, their is a black letter legal requirement in almost every state that their be a wet ink signature and stamp certifying the proper transfer. When this does not happen the chain of title is broken.

    A broken chain of title does not release the home owner from making payment on the house. However, it does cause the bank to be unable to foreclose upon the house because they cannot prove they are the proper entity to foreclose. Something similar happened in Florida in the 1920’s.

    This will likely require the court system to sort through these foreclosures. Most, perhaps almost all, homes purchased since 2005 may not have a proper chain of title.

    The current foreclosure crisis is an effort by the banks to cover up their previous fraud in inducing the loans which they knew could not be paid and their subsequent misrepresentation of the quality of those loans when they were turned into Mortgage Backed Securities.

    Largely due to this fraud, most of the “Too Big to Fail” banks are insolvent. They are attempting to cover their tracks and foreclose upon these homes by any means – including submitting fraudulent documents to the courts. We cannot allow this to happen. Property rights and the rule of law are fundamental. If we allow these to be violated we are essentially a banana republic.

    Yes, home owners need to ultimately pay what they owe. However, the process needs to be lawful. The banks need to follow proper procedures.

    The ultimate solution will likely involve the courts setting up entities to receive mortgage payments where the true mortgage owner is in doubt. Once courts can determine who properly holds the title, they can release the funds to that bank.

    Banks must open their books and reveal the true state of their finances. Banks that are insolvent should be “resolved” under the Dodd-Frank resolution authority. Until and unless the bad debt in our financial system is flushed from the system, our economy will not be able to recover.

    Our current political administration promised transparency, but their handling of the mortgage / foreclosure fraud crisis has been anything but. Noting less than the future of property rights, rule of law, and our economic future is at stake.

  21. Jimmy Juber says:

    Fine the banks? Are you all serious? The banks have suffered a Fine by the borrower NOT paying on the mortgage.

    For those that dont understand, the bank borrows the money at a rate (say 2%) and turns around and loans out at a higher rate (say 7%). When the borrower does not pay, the bank is still liable for the money they borrowed (at 2%).

    The punishment that the banks are getting by NOT having the proper paperwork is costing them money. The amount of time it requires to correct the paperwork and then get a new court date is all tied to dollars (ie continued months of non payment on dollars lent).

  22. Jimmy Juber says:

    One more comment on forcing banks to rework mortgages. I do not agree with that either.
    I have a rental house. I am in the same position as banks.

    I have a loan on the house at 5.5% making my mortgage, insurance payments and property taxes 750/month. I charge the tenant a monthly payment (950/month) that is essentially a higher interest rate in order to cover my expenses and make a small profit.

    My business model is to have leases for at least 2 years at 950/month. For a judge or government agency to tell me to lower my monthly rent to say 850/month, but change the lease terms to say, 3 years is changing my business model. By changing my business model, they are also changing my calculated risks. (they have lowered the spread between the original 5.5% loan and the interest rate I’m charging the tenant).

    When they stop paying for whatever reason, I still have to pay my original loan. If i go to court to force an eviction and my paperwork is faulty, the tenant gets to stay for longer which costs me money (basically, a fine for faulty paperwork).

  23. Elloo says:

    Call me a horrible person. But here’s my take. Nobody put a gun to any now-foreclosed-former-homeowner’s head to buy a home. You are solely responsible for reading and agreeing to the fine print when you sign on the dotted line and for being RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS. My neighbors are in foreclosure and haven’t paid their mortgage in 2 years. State-mandated arbitration sessions with the banks’s lawyers have dragged on for multiple extensions. So essentially, they are living free in a free house for the foreseable future. From what I hear, they have a very good chance of getting the house for free due to flawed paperwork. I/you/we, who pay all our bills in full and on time, pay for these free-loading skanks.

    • L says:

      I totally agree!!!! I am so sick and tired of people like this!!! I know a family who stopped making their payments in August 08 and still live in the home… They have been on at least 10 vacations since then…must be nice to not make a mortgage payment on a house they could not afford in the first place and live in it for 2+ years for FREE!!!! My husband and I work very very hard for every cent and never go on vacations let alone not pay our bills!!! Now the bank may give them “Cash for KEYS!!!! This makes me SICK!!! These people need to be held responsible…FREE LOADING SKANKS FOR SURE!!!!

  24. sickofjudgement says:

    My husband and I are ones that are being foreclosed on. But let me say this. I had a good job, my husband had and still has a good job. We lived in our home for 15+ years no problems. I was kicking my ass to better myself in school and was one credit short of a very lucrative career, when BAM I came down with an illness that knocked me off my feet and put me practically in a wheelchair. This is on top of dealing with a son that needs constant medication for his survival (But I’m putting that aside as not an issue because we had that before we signed a mortgage.) For two years we had been put through the wringer trying to modify our loan due to medical issues. We paid trial payments, did as they asked, and were told something different to do each month by another individual. Never able to deal with just one individual in the same state, much less the same office. After much emotional abuse of trying to save our home, we finally had enough and said, lets just “cut our losses” and move on.

    We agreed to do a “Deed in lieu of foreclosure.” No problem, We are honest and we agree that circumstances have put us here that we can’t control. We were not going to be ones to sit back and take advantage of the situation. So we did what we thought was the right thing and started the process of the deed in lieu, as we were told by the MORTGAGE SERVICING COMPANY. But guess what? “Oh you have to attempt to do a short sale for 90 days before you can do a deed in lieu. Okay, no problem. They give us a real estate agent to contact. We fix the house up by putting money (that was hard to come by) in it and made every effort to show the home for a sale. We were told after the 90 days were up we could sign the house over. Okay, good. We go and find an apartment, put a deposit down and continue to wait out the 90 days. We can’t change what has happened but we also can’t take advantage of it. If we were pieces of trash as some of you like to put out there, don’t you think we would have stayed until the cops showed up to escort us out. But guess what? We didn‘t! We made every effort to do what was right and give the house back.

    After the first 30 days into the attempt to short sale the home, we were served foreclosure papers anyway, because one hand was not communicating with the other hand within the servicing company, the mortgage company, and the investors. So guess what people? I have had enough with these companies messing with the mental emotions of some people that just have fell on hard times and are trying to make it right. So I called the realtor, told her to take the sign out from the yard, because damned if we were going to assist the mortgage company any further. So we are in an apartment, paying our rent, accepting that things have happened, but be damned if I give the house back quietly. They made that decision for me. Everyone needs to realize that these companies are not losing money from these foreclosures. They are making money, and lots of it. That’s why they are giving everybody the run around. So before you call people low lives, scum, or free-loading skanks, maybe you should look up the definition of karma. I used to be a person that judged others so harshly, until it happened to me. Now I tend not to judge, because I don’t know the shoes that they have walked in. Some of them are totally taking advantage, but there are some of us that DON’T CARE about taking advantage of a free home and realize that we can’t do it, make every effort to correct the situation, and still get screwed.

    • pam says:

      thank you for telling it like it is. i paid on my home for 14 years. got m.s and cant work. the banks lied and took my home.

Please Leave a Reply
Bargaineering Comment Policy

Previous Article: «
Next Article: »
Advertising Disclosure: Bargaineering may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website.
About | Contact Me | Privacy Policy/Your California Privacy Rights | Terms of Use | Press
Copyright © 2016 by All rights reserved.