When banks decided to pool mortgages, slice them and dice them, and sell them off in pieces (mortgage backed securities) they generate a substantial chain of ownership that became more complex with each security sale. The process was so complex that buyers of these securities had little knowledge of what was inside, and more importantly they may lack the documentation to prove they actually own the title to the homes that are backing up these securities.
In White Plains, NY a home owner going through a chapter 13 bankruptcy may have gotten some good news courtesy of these complex securities. PHH Mortgage Bank filed a claim for $461,000 against the home owner, and asked for a foreclosure so they could reposes the home and sell it to recover the money. The judge in the case ask PHH to prove they actually owned the Title and mortgage lien, but PHH could not furnish enough proof.
WHY?!? Because PHH purchased the Mortgage lien in the form of a Mortgage Backed Security and it was not able to show a clean paper trail proving their clear ownership of the debt and rights to reposes the property.
The ruling says that PHH dose not have the ownership of the debt or rights to the property … but it also did not say that the homeowner has those rights either. In short the house is in limbo. No bank can legaly take the home away from her, but at the same time she does not have clear title and rights to SELL the property to anyone else. To settle the title dispute there are bound to be more court dates and law suits. The real question is how many more cases like this will we see in the coming moonths and years.