Twenty years ago, I signed up for a mortgage on my condo. I don’t remember which bank handled the loan. Ten years ago, I tried to refinance this mortgage, to a bank whose rates were much lower. Apparently,the mortgage had been sold and resold twice over the interim period. It was now in possession of a CitiMortgage company.

Refinancing mortgages should be simple. My attempt wasn’t. The new bank wanted my ownership papers–my promissory note and the deed proving that I owned my condo. Unfortunately, CitiMortgage couldn’t find my note, my deed and other proofs of ownership.With all those transfers, the banks and mortgage companies had failed to record each linkof the legal procedures, CitiMortgage didn’t use those words. They simply told me that they were unable to locate the documents–documents which the new lender would obviously need. I was told that I should contactthe office of the County Clerk,which keeps copies of such records, and that they would replace my deed. Only one problem. There was a substantial charge for legal and and other fees they needed to expend in order to provide me with new documents. Not to mention the time and nuisance required. I dropped the whole idea. [The mortgage balance is now less than $1500,00 so, in a couple of years, when I need to retire the mortgage and want my deed back, I shall probably have the same problem.]

Why am I bringing this up now? Read your newspapers.It amuses me that many banks now trying to foreclose on delinquent mortgage holders are having problems similar to the one I had. Before all this wheeling and dealing with mortgages, banks always kept the loan documents in their vaults.Now, with all the transfers and slicing and dicing and consolidation going on, the ownership documents seem to have disappeared. Oops! In one Florida county, over 1,700 notes have been “lost.” Since banks have recently carried out approximately 300,000 foreclosures a month, it is now a huge problem. For many years, these slipshod methods were routinely ignored, but after a court ruling in 2007, everything hit the fan . Watch out for tens of thousands of court suits during the next few years.

There are some smiling property owners out there. At least for the time being. What goes around comes around.

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