Journalism in the Public Interest

Resources for Investigating Investor Restrictions on Mortgage Modifications

Our guide on how to investigate the investors’ contract that governs your mortgage.


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Loan servicers regularly tell homeowners that investors or investor restrictions prohibit mortgage modifications, but ProPublica has found that the contracts governing these loans often aren’t very limiting.

How a servicer can and can’t modify a loan is laid out in a contract it has with investors, and the contracts are public information. Some homeowners’ advocates have taken to looking at the contracts themselves to verify the barriers that servicers say exist. Finding the contracts, however, can be complicated. Here are some resources for digging up this type of information.

Getting professional guidance

Mortgage-backed securities are inherently complicated, so homeowners should consider getting help from a housing counselor. Free help from a HUD-certified counselor is available through the HOPE Hotline at 1-888-995-HOPE, or online through the HUD website. Be cautious of any private companies that ask for money upfront.

Counselors and advocates typically have more resources and connections than homeowners to work with servicers to reach a resolution. If they believe there’s a legitimate problem with a servicer, they can escalate a case to an internal department at Fannie Mae, which administers the Making Home Affordable Program.

Finding the owner of a loan

To find the name of mortgage-backed security that owns a loan, send the servicer a “qualified written request” under the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, which requires the servicer to acknowledge the request within 20 days and to try to answer the request within 60 days. HUD has a sample letter available online. Be sure to keep the request focused (long requests may be considered “unqualified”) and ask for the full name of the security or trust that owns a loan. In the letter, you can also reference the section of the Truth in Lending Act (15 USC sec 1641 f2) that says:

“Upon written request by the obligor, the servicer shall provide the obligor, to the best knowledge of the servicer, with the name, address, and telephone number of the owner of the obligation or the master servicer of the obligation.”

Alternately, foreclosure notices typically have the name of the trustee and the security listed on the letter or in the supporting documents. Keep in mind that the names of the securities are complicated. For example, the trust that owns the mortgage of Arthur and Alberta Bailey of Louisiana (mentioned in our story on investor-related denials) is called “CWABS Inc. Asset Backed Certificates 2006-9.”

Reading the contracts

Pooling and Servicing Agreements (PSAs) and the prospectuses for mortgage-backed securities are available publicly on the Securities and Exchange Commission website, but they can be hard to find. Jeffrey Gentes, an attorney at the Connecticut Fair Housing Center, has been presenting instructions (PDF) to housing counselors on how to search the site for the contracts.

The contracts can be hundreds of pages long and difficult to understand, so review them with a housing counselor or an attorney to determine if there might be a problem with a servicer’s denial of a mortgage modification.

Finally, securities issued in 2006 and after often submitted a full list of every loan in a pool to the SEC when the trust was created. These are usually filed in a “Free Writing Prospectus,” which you can find on the SEC’s website the same way as a PSA. These initial reports can be helpful, to confirm that a mortgage was actually owned in a particular security based on the loan number.

Finding investor reports of modifications

Trustees issue monthly reports to the investors in a security, which can be valuable because they report the modifications done in a loan pool. The reports are often publicly accessible online, though the sites can be hard to find and navigate. First, make sure to know the name of the security’s trustee (not the issuer or servicer), which is in SEC documents (see above) or on foreclosure notices. Then try to find the exact trust, or “deal,” on the trustee’s website. Some sites are organized by the name of the trust, and others by the issuers of the security; it takes some digging. The reports for each trust can be different, but in general, modification stats are in the monthly summary statements or loan-level data.

Here are links for reporting sites at the four largest trustees in the country: Deutsche Bank, Wells Fargo, US Bank and Bank of New York Mellon, which includes securities where JPMorgan Chase was initially the trustee.

Read the main story: When Denying Loan Mods, Loan Servicers Often Blame Investors -- Wrongly

These points are exactly correct.  I live in California and have found all my information just as written.  I have posted the information including FOIA, OCC, OTS, SEC, and much more on scribd user name
b.daviesmd6605.  Many hours of research has been done for free.  I want to make all part of the solution

Brian, I tried viewing the doc’s on scribd but they can’t find them…. any suggestions? If you just respond to this message my email will alert me. Thanks!

You can also add to the list of trustees. Formerly LaSalle Bank’s site it is now owned by Bank of America.

Another great place for SEC Filings of PSA’s is

Carrie Bekker

Aug. 9, 2010, 6:13 p.m.

Hi, Brian.  I’m also having difficulty locating your research.  Could you please email me a link where I can find it?

Many thanks,

b.daviesmd6605 scribd
all my documents are on scribd.  nearly 160,000 reads of these documents.

So Residential Credit Solutions tells me that Citibank is my investor.  But Citibank says it isn’t. RCS is turning me down based on Citi’s “strict guidelines” and yet according to Citi, they sold me to RCS.

If you’re talking “Who owns the mortgage & Note?” then send in a “Qualified Written Request” asking for the entire paper trail of everything that has ever concerned your note & Mortgage including each and every Assignment of each from any one entity to another, copies of any and all alonges, etc…, etc…, etc. If you’re already in foreclosure then get the same thong through “Discovery” but be prepared to get the Court to compel the Plaintiff’s for this stuff as they seem reluctant to provide it on a “timely basis”.

John’s right, Sarah. Break out the QWR and send it off to them. It won’t accomplish much beyond showing a court that they refused to comply with your request for documentation but this is all about who has the better paper trail.

You should also hit your county registry/recorder of deeds and pull all of the assignments of mortgage that have been recorded. While you’re there, check your mortgage again and see if MERS is involved. If they are, they will be disclosed within the first two pages or so.

If they ARE involved, grab the 18 digit MIN # from page 1 and plug it in to the MERS Servicer Identification System page @ . You’ll at least find your servicer and possibly the note holder or “investor” as MERS calls them.

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
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