You know all those snide remarks the financial bobbleheads have been making about a "handful" of foreclosures with improper documentation? As the video above states, it's a big problem in Chicago. And in New York City alone, it's more than 4,000:
Thousands of foreclosures across the city are in question because paperwork used to justify the seizure of homes is riddled with flaws, a Daily News probe has found.
Banks have suspended some 4,450 foreclosures in all five boroughs because of paperwork problems like missing and inaccurate documents, dubious signatures and banks trying to foreclose on mortgages they don't even own.
The city's not alone. All 50 states are investigating foreclosure paperwork, evicted homeowners are hiring lawyers and buyers of foreclosed homes are fretting over the legality of their purchases.
Last week, New York's top judge, Jonathan Lippman, began requiring all bank lawyers to sign a form vouching for the accuracy of their foreclosure paperwork.
That could have been a problem for one Long Island foreclosure that was being brought by GMAC Mortgage last year.
A sworn affidavit dated March 30 was signed by someone identified as Sherry Hall, vice president of a GMAC affiliate called Homecomings Financial Network.
Fifteen days later another sworn affidavit surfaced in another Suffolk County foreclosure, this time signed by a GMAC vice president named Sheri D. Hall.
Despite the difference in the names, the signatures were identical - and were vouched for by the same notary.
Suffolk Supreme Court Justice Peter Mayer refused to approve the foreclosure bearing the name Sherry Hall and ordered her, and the notary, to appear in court Nov. 17. GMAC officials did not return calls.
"It's nice to know someone in authority is looking at the fine print," said Derek McCoy, the delinquent homeowner in the case who's trying to keep his Coram home with a loan modification.
Mayer issued his decision Sept. 21, the day after GMAC, which was rescued from failure with a $17 billion taxpayer bailout, suspended foreclosures in the 23 states where court approval is required, including New York.
The moratorium, which ended last week, came after GMAC "robo-signer" Jeffrey Stephan admitted in a Maine case he'd signed 10,000 foreclosure documents a month without reviewing them.
Stephan also robo-signed in New York. The News found six Bronx foreclosures with his signature, including five in one month.
In one case, a judge halted foreclosure on an E. 242nd St. property because Stephan's affidavit did not include supporting documents. The case resumed after GMAC submitted the documents - and a new affidavit.
Judges are also seeing banks foreclosing on homes they don't yet own - a problem that concerns Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Arthur Schack.
Schack said it's become increasingly "murky" trying to determine who holds a mortgage at the time of foreclosure because they're often passed from one lender to another.
At a state Senate committee hearing last year, Schack testified that the lender must prove it holds the mortgage on the day the foreclosure is filed.
"Sounds simple, but unfortunately it's not so simple at times," he said.
Last August, Schack dismissed a foreclosure the Bank of New York was bringing on an E. 48th St. home in Brooklyn that was filed 61 days before the mortgage was assigned to the bank.
The judge dubbed as "nonsensical" a computer printout the bank claimed proved it held the mortgage before the foreclosure was brought.