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Putting A Hold On Mortgage Foreclosures

In the midst of foreclosure mania spurred by the bad economy, a New Jersey Appellate Court recently tightened the reins on banks’ power to foreclose. That’s great news for Sandra A. Ford, whose bank, Wells Fargo, may not be able to establish that it has the ability to foreclose on her home in Westwood, NJ.

In 2005, Ford borrowed $403,750 and took out a mortgage on her home with Argent Mortgage Company. Argent supposedly sold the mortgage and promissory note to Wells Fargo Bank. After some legal wrangling, including claims of predatory lending and fraud against Argent, the Court was left to resolve was whether Wells Fargo had ‘standing’ the legal right – to foreclose on Ford’s home.

In Wells Fargo Bank N.A. v. Ford, the Appellate Court said that Wells Fargo could not foreclose on Ford’s home – unless it could prove that it actually received ownership or control of the mortgage note from Argent. The paperwork submitted to the Court by Wells Fargo to the Court were not enough because Wells Fargo lacked personal knowledge and the copies of the documents were not confirmed to be accurate.

Ms. Ford is not completely off the hook, since the Appellate Court ‘sent the case back’ to the trial court so that more information could be gotten about the 2nd bank’s right to foreclose. But her case represents a blow to banks that relied on ‘robo-signing’ and kept shoddy records over the past few years’ and are now trying to evict some victims of economic distress from their homes.