In February 2012, 49 state attorneys general, including Nevada’s AG, and the federal government announced a historic joint state-federal settlement with the country’s five largest mortgage servicers:

Foreclosure Problems



•Bank of America


•JPMorgan Chase

•Wells Fargo


This is the largest consumer financial protection settlement in US history.

The agreement settles state and federal investigations finding that the country’s five largest mortgage servicers routinely signed foreclosure related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts they contained were correct.  Both of these practices violate the law.

If you lost your home to foreclosure in Nevada between 2008 and 2011, you have probably already been notified that you may be eligible to participate in Nevada’s settlement with the National Mortgage Settlement Administrator.  THE FINAL DAY TO SUBMIT A CLAIM FORM TO BE ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE PAYMENT IS FRIDAY, JANUARY 18, 2013.

To see if you are eligible, you may visit


Black & LoBello on AM720 KDWN

Tune in as Black & LoBello offers free legal advice on a wide range of topics

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from November 7th, 2012 in which Managing Partner, Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., hosts special guest, Bubba Grimsley, Esq., an attorney licensed in Alabama.  Mrs. Black Chernine and Mr. Grimsley discuss post-election issues (2:40), voters’ decision making process (3:45), misplaced priorities between domestic vs. foreign issues (6:00), results of the election (7:30), recreational marijuana initiatives (11:05), federal vs. state law (12:25), snapshot of current big banks’ legal trouble  (15:02), Nevada’s real estate ghost inventory (19:53), how HOAs can foreclose on a property and its responsibilities to home owners (21:36) and how to deal with a mechanics lien (28:23).

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” every Wednesday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

To listen to past shows, visit our Media page.

Black & LoBello on AM720 KDWN

Tune in as Black & LoBello offers free legal advice on a wide range of topics

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from October 31st, 2012 in which Managing Partner, Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., hosts special guest Cynthia Dustin-Cruz, Esq., who is running for a Judge position in the Las Vegas Justice Court, Department 5.  Mrs. Black Chernine and Mrs. Dustin-Cruz discuss the latest Case-Shiller Home Price Index report (2:15), recent lawsuits related to the mortgage industry (3:00), a lawsuit regarding banks’ maintenance of their foreclosed homes (5:25), Mrs. Dustin-Cruz’s legal career (10:25), what makes Mrs. Dustin-Cruz a good candidate (12:38), what Justice Court does (15:00), the different diversionary programs and their benefits (20:45) and typical home loan modification practices and their impacts (34:20).

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” every Wednesday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

To listen to past shows, visit our Media page.

One of the most recent efforts to bring the big banks to task over their role in the nation’s real estate crisis is a New York lawsuit, Abel v. BAC Home Loans Servicing LP et al, alleging international money laundering by Bank of America as well as other major federally chartered banks.  The lawsuit alleges that Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Citibank, Citigroup, 1 West and Wells Fargo have been moving trillions of dollars into offshore accounts without properly disclosing those transactions on their balance sheets.

When a property forecloses and sells in a Trustee sale, the servicer of the loan takes its fees for servicing the foreclosure as well as other fees.  The remaining funds from the sale are supposed to go to the new owner of the loan.  Finally, the old debt is supposed to be discharged.  However, the big banks are being accused of diverting that remaining money into off-shore accounts which earn interest.  Meanwhile, they are NOT crediting the previous loan and discharging the debt.

In their defense, the banks claim that since they don’t know who the new investors are, they can’t pay them the money while conveniently earning interest off those investments.  Ironically, that same argument has been used by struggling homeowners who want to mediate their loans to avoid foreclosure.  In typical fashion, where the homeowner suffers, the banks profit.

Transferring money to offshore accounts is not illegal if done correctly.  However, by not fully disclosing the transfers and failing to discharge the old debts, the banks may be in violation of money laundering statutes and the Patriot Act.

This case brings to the forefront yet another aspect of how sloppy paperwork and accounting has been a standard business practice of the big banks.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Tune in as Black & LoBello offers free legal advice on a wide range of topics

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from May 2nd, 2012 in which Managing Partner, Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., hosts special guest, Jeffrey Morse, Esq., Special Counsel to Withers Worldwide.  Ms. Black Chernine and Mr. Morse discuss Abel v. BAC Home Loans Servicing LP et al, a current case in New York alleging that banks are laundering money overseas (2:15), problems with the stress tests for the major banks (12:40), tips for investment including real estate and offshore accounts (16:40), how to check house foreclosures (21:27), real estate agent unfair practices (25:30),  problems getting a loan modifications (29:30) and tips for successful asset protection (34:40).

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” every Wednesday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

To listen to past shows, visit our Media page.

The big “winners” in the Multi-State Settlement (“MSS”) are Florida and California who have exacted approximately half of all MSS monies between them. Regardless of these two goliath states, Nevada captured a decent amount. On any given day, Nevada ranks number one for bankruptcy filings and percentage of unemployed individuals.  Furthermore, for the last five years Nevada, prior to passing AB284, has ranked number one for foreclosures.

Nevada is the clear devastation front-runner considering 1 in every 17 homeowners are at some stage of delinquency. Moreover, a full one-half of all residential housing stock is considered underwater and one-third of that is at or above 175% LTV. Nevada is said to have conservatively lost more than $10 Billion in real estate value. In this regard, Nevada is clearly the dubious winner. Perhaps, in a perverted sense, we have “won” again with this settlement.

$25 Billion, to be sure, is a large sum. However, it represents approximately one QUARTER of annual profit for the five major lenders (“Banks”). In exchange, not only do the Banks move forward on a far sturdier footing in terms of looming and expensive litigation, they have also seen to it to give themselves, their affiliates and relations a tax credit for the “good deeds” of refinance, principal write downs, cash for keys, etc. Moreover, they are getting these credits for writing down loans which they don’t own any interest in at all. Therefore, the actual stake-holders in those investments will probably be as kindly victimized by the Banks as the main street borrowers.

Why are we not only bailing Banks out but giving them tax breaks to run their business the way THEY SHOULD BE RUN? Why are we giving Banks and their servicers credit for potentially ruining the investments of others? Why do we continue to repeat the same mistakes and hope for different outcomes? These are questions only a silver-tongued politician or banker can answer. Certainly, they will manage to craft an answer, call a photo-shoot and make a speech while the rest of us continue to work, dutifully pay taxes and lose faith in our system.

Thankfully, the private sector has filed a number of law suits on behalf of and against some marquis real estate and finance players such as AIG, Black Rock and the SEC who sued untouchables such as Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. Nevada too has had enough and was one of only a handful of states that filed suits against the Banks and the ONLY state that has filed criminal charges until just recently with the state of Missouri filing a criminal action against a foreclosure document processing company in February of 2012.

Of the many issues that dog the litigation process (besides expense, time, and complexity) is the fact that states are dealing with moving targets. The speed with which the Banks buy, sell, merge, re-brand, dissolve entities, hire employees, change management and terminate employees is matched only by the speed with which banks bought, sold, manufactured and manipulated documentation in the last decade. These amoeba-like companies and their guerilla litigation tactics are no recipe for a swift resolution to Nevada’s immediate needs.

In contemplation of this slow bleed, Nevada settled its lawsuit with Bank of America and chose immediate funds and a promise to refinance or reduce borrowers’ principal. As a result, Nevada added more than $200 Million dollars to its settlement coffers. Again, this money is in addition to the $1.3 Billion marked as the amount headed to, or to be granted to, the citizens of the state of Nevada for criminal activities of the Banks.

In exchange for the MSS, Nevada and other participant states have agreed NOT to pursue the released parties from any CIVIL state action. However, that is not and should not be considered the end of the battle. Keep in mind that the states now armed with funds are still able to proceed criminally against the Banks and culpable parties. There is no reason to assume that Nevada will continue in this vein since we already have foreclosure-related civil and criminal suits pending. More important still is the fact that individual borrowers can collect their distribution AND pursue their state and federal claims unfettered by the MSS.

While I do agree that the MSS is working in the right direction it is not THE answer and it is so remarkably unbalanced that it is hard to digest. In reality, the Banks are not paying the touted $26 Billion but $5 Billion. The credits they will receive add up to nearly $20 Billion for principal reductions and refinancing. When this amount is divided amongst those foreclosed upon between September 2008 and December 2011, that leaves approximately $900 to $1,900 per loan depending on the number of persons opting in. There you have it folks! The price of high finance and crime in America is less than $2,000 per loan.

The $5 Billion in hard money that is said to be distributed amongst the states may be used as, when and how each state directs. Ironically, I am placing bets that these funds will be deposited into Bank of America accounts by the majority of recipient states leaving the Banks to gain still more benefit from  the MSS.

As to the remaining $25 Billion, much of this allocation is to be used toward write-downs, refinancing, deficiency releases, cash for keys and other credit oriented “contributions” which will be distributed by the Banks and the MSS on a first come, first serve basis so it will be important for Nevadans to get in quickly lest other states take the loot.

The breakdown of Nevada’s take is as follows:

  1. From the MSS:
  • Nevada will receive $60 Million in funds from the MSS. The state may do what it likes with these funds. I would expect that the state will either set up programs to assist Nevadans with participation in the MSS, direct funds towards legal aid, and, hopefully, use a good portion of the money to fund the criminal pursuit of individuals involved in bad acts concerning real estate finance, servicing, and foreclosures.
  • Nevadans will be allocated $40 Million in payout to those borrowers who are deemed to be proper recipients. In order to be a “proper recipient,” your loan must have been in the portfolio of one of the participating banks. That is to say, it should not have been merely serviced by one of those banks or their affiliates. Borrowers whose loans were foreclosed upon and were owned by a GES, private trusts, or publicly traded securitized trust DO NOT QUALIFY for this payment. Moreover, the payment will only be delivered after the participant opts in. The payment will be based on a sliding scale from $900-$2,000 per wrongfully foreclosed upon borrower. Regardless of the participation, or the amount of the payment, the INDIVIDUAL BORROWER MAY STILL PURSUE ANY PRIVATE CLAIM HE OR SHE HAS RELATING THE LOAN OR FORELCOSURE.
  • Although $1.2 Billion dollars has been allocated to Nevada, depending on the rush from other states, Nevada may not get that much money. Moreover, there is no right accounting that will ensure what amount we will receive at the end of the MSS distribution.  These monies will be used toward principal reductions, refinancing, deficiency releases and cash for keys. Determining who is a qualified participant in this “menu of services,” is difficult. While one can assume that the participating banks have the authority to write down and forgive deficiencies in their own portfolios, it is hard to determine what, if any, authority a bank, or its servicer arm has to do this for a loan which the bank does not own. Indeed, the claim that banks do not have such authority (along with the moral hazard issue – as if the whole system is not rife with it) has been the main excuse for the banks not doing so to date.
  1. From the Bank of America Settlement:
  • Included in the MSS, Nevada will get a guaranteed $750 Million in principal reductions and deficiency releases from Bank of America. This money too is relegated to the bank’s control.
  • Nevada will also receive another $30 Million to use as it wishes (much like the MSS $60 Million mentioned above).
  • Finally, there were modest amounts directed towards remuneration for odds and ends associated with the Bank of America lawsuit that Nevada will receive.
  • Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto shall receive a seat on the enforcement committee of the MSS.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Wall Street knew all of the mortgages were bad when they created or bought and sold them. Furthermore, they knew the warranties of quality they made regarding the caliber of the loans, whether to the certificate purchasers of the Residential Mortgage Backed Securities (“RMBS”) pools or the Government Sponsored Entities (“GSE”), were meaningless when they made them. It did not take hindsight to determine that those pools should not have been rated “AAA.”

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac knew that the related documentation and the serving records were problematic for over a decade.  The Federal Government has also known of the problems as evidenced by consent orders signed over a year ago by 14 of the major servicers. They promised then to do what should have been done all along: abide by laws and sound business practices.

Congress knows. The Senators know. The Attorneys General are aware. Countless committees, reports, investigations and press releases cite the blasphemous practices and unconscionable conduct of the industries related to real estate and its financing. Each have blustered “something must be done,” “what an outrage,” “vote for me, I will change all of this.”

Borrowers also knew it was too good to be true.  Even if they did not have to produce documents to support stated income on mortgage applications, they knew that the applications were often falsified by originators who would never have any “skin in the game” of the debt roulette they were playing.

Is there anyone left who can claim ignorance that our mortgage market from start to foreclosure is rife with fraud, felons, misfits and idiots? Ironically, everyone claims it is someone else’s fault and that some other party should suffer the finger-pointing and scaffold. Poppykosh!

This dreadlock of mortgage morass, main street malaise and political uselessness has been twisting up for decades. The notion that it can be undone with the stroke of a pen is just that, a notion. You cannot be fit without discipline. You cannot cure lethargy without energy and you cannot fix systemic corruption and the real estate market with the Multi-State Settlement.

The Multi-State Settlement (“MSS”) involves every state, save and except Oklahoma.  The MSS was entered into by the participating states and the following five major lenders (“Banks”):

  1. Bank of America $11.82 Billion (who holds the Countrywide loans that were not sold);
  2. Wells Fargo $5.35 Billion;
  3. Ally Financial $310 Million (formerly GMAC);
  4. JP Morgan Chase $5.29 Billion; and
  5. CitiCorp $2.2 Billion.

However, the Banks are not the only beneficiaries of the MSS for there is a release that includes their subsidiaries, affiliates and related entities, regardless of whether the subsidiaries to these companies are past, present or (presumably) acquired in the future.  The net is cast quite far and wide in terms of Bank releases. The activities covered are similarly endless. However, they are listed as the acts or failures that relate to origination, servicing and foreclosure; the entire mortgage process.

Who, besides Banks and offending entities, were eager to see the settlement executed? None other than the Department of Justice (whom we pay to peruse and convict criminals, not settle with them); the Federal Reserve Board; the Conference of State Bank Supervisors; the Federal Housing Finance Authority (Freddie and Fannie Regulator); and the HUD. Many of these players have filed, pursued or exacted their own settlements with the Banks.

It is also interesting to note which states’ Attorneys General and federal actors were involved in the committee that put the proposed settlement together. It shall be interesting as well to watch these individuals get federal or other coveted appointments in the future.

  1. Pam Bondi, Florida Attorney General
  2. Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General
  3. Eric Holder, U.S. Attorney General
  4. Sean Donovan, U.S. Secretary of Housing & Urban Development
  5. Lisa Madigan, Illinois Attorney General

It will also be these “civic-minded” individuals that lead the MSS complaint/compliance committee. You should be asking yourself now whether these individuals are the best suited for the continued oversight and enforcement of this program as they were the very soft-heeled ones to come up with it.

Despite being cash-strapped and eager to receive an infusion of capital to cover budget shortfalls (like many other states in the Union) the following states were hold-out states, true hold-out states. They actually worked out a more advantageous deal for their constituents.

  1. Arizona
  2. California
  3. Delaware
  4. Massachusetts
  5. New York
  6. Nevada
  7. Oklahoma (never signed on to MSS, but took the hard money and not the opportunity for write-downs).

The states’ Attorneys General were forced to choke down the MSS much like a goose making pate for bankers. Thankfully, Nevada managed to secure a better settlement than most, and so we should have, as we are the hardest hit state.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Click here to listen to the  KNPR State of Nevada show in which Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., is asked about how the settlement agreement between Nevada and five of the biggest banks could help or hurt homeowners fighting foreclosure (19:50) and whether homeowners can realistically expect principal reductions on their mortgage loans (24:55).

Black & LoBello on AM720 KDWN

Tune in as Black & LoBello offers free legal advice on a wide range of topicsClick here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from January 11th, 2012 in which Managing Partner, Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., discusses breach-of-contract issues (3:05), short sale approval during the foreclosure process (5:34), if quit claiming fix credit issues (11:00), how safe is it to refinance (15:20), New York’s investigation forced placed insurance policies (19:50)(31:10), how the eviction process works (21:55), using an abandoned house for  garage sales (25:50), the status of the Supreme Court Case regarding MERS (32:22) and help for VA loans (36:30).

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” everyday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.

To listen to past shows, visit our Media page.

Nevada at the Forefront

Nevada may be leading the fight to bring banks to task for their role in the current mortgage crisis.  However, since so many people do not fully understand the facts, this fight will probably be hard fought until more people and states come on board.  There has been so much bank chicanery it seems just as one problem is dealt with, eight more come to light.  Many states that haven’t been as hard-hit by the mortgage crisis either don’t have the resources or the inclination to get as deeply involved as Nevada.  To date, Nevada  is the only state to file a criminal prosecution against anyone related to a bank for foreclosures.  Furthermore Nevada is only one of two states to file complaints against Bank of America and the only state to file against Lender Processing Services.  Las Vegas has benefited from excellent reporting on the mortgage crisis as well with Channel 8 I-Team George Knapp and Colleen McCarty’s report, Desert Underwater, which has distilled so much information and detail down to the root causes of the problems.  So while Nevada may be leading the charge to right the wrongs of the mortgage industry, the biggest relief can only come once more people and states get educated on what can and should be done.  They might do well to learn from Nevada and its efforts.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Short Sale Update: HAFA Process Improvements

Bank of America is making a process change that will reduce cycle time and improve customer service for many short sales that are submitted with an offer.

The change goes into effect Dec. 1, 2011, and impacts all short sales submitted with an offer in which the homeowner is eligible for the Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternative (HAFA) program.

When a short sale is submitted with an offer and the homeowner is HAFA eligible, we will no longer halt work on the file while waiting to contact the homeowner. HAFA eligible homeowners are no longer required to call our Short Sale Customer Care to indicate whether they will participate in the program.

Instead, real estate agents can indicate a homeowner’s HAFA interest by submitting the necessary documents to Equator within 14 days. During that 14-day window, the short sale will continue moving forward. By the end of the 14 days, if we have not received the requested HAFA documents, we will continue to process the file as a traditional short sale.

This change is being made because we are transitioning the processing of all HAFA short sales with an offer from our outsourced vendor partners to Bank of America associates. A Bank of America specialist will be able to seamlessly transition a file from our traditional process to the HAFA process, thus improving customer service and the agent experience. Our outsourced vendor partners will, however, continue to process all short sales submitted without an offer.

Action required:

  • Short sales initiated on that receive a HAFA eligibility message no longer require homeowners to call Customer Care to confirm their interest.
  • If homeowners wish to participate in HAFA, agents must submit the requested documents within 14 days.  (Note: the 14-day period begins the day the HAFA solicitation letter is mailed to the homeowner. Agents can obtain the date of the letter from homeowner.)
  • If you are unclear about which documents to submit, contact your short sale specialist via Equator messaging.

Additional Recommendations:

  • Help your homeowners understand the benefits a HAFA short sale, including the relocation incentive at closing. Review the agent HAFA education guide to learn more.
  • Provide the Bank of America HAFA Eligibility FAQ to interested homeowners.
  • Direct homeowners to contact Customer Care at 1.866.880.1232 if they have questions.

Black & LoBello on the Radio

Click here to listen to the Legal Hour on KDWN AM720 from August 31st, 2011 in which Managing Partner, Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., discusses the Landlord/Tenant parking lot issues, mortgages sold to other lenders, bankruptcy issues, lender violations of consumer privacy rights,  construction defect issues and estate planning to protect against creditors.

Please tune in to AM720 KDWN’s “Legal Hour,” everyday, from 9 AM to 10 AM.  Listen live on the radio or online.   Feel free to call in with your comments or questions at 702-257-5396.


Today, various news outlets have reported the Federal Trade Commission is issuing refund checks to homeowners that were overcharged by Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.  These checks are a product of the FTC’s hefty settlement with Countrywide, which was made June of last year, after the FTC’s investigation uncovered severe inaccuracies in the Countrywide billings to its clients.  These offenses (“Junk Fees”) include unreasonably marking up default-related fees such as inspections, maintenance services, title searches, and foreclosure trustee services, as well as falsifying charges during borrowers’ Chapter 13 bankruptcy proceedings.  The checks amount to nearly $108 million, but this could be just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.

FTC Chairman Jon Liebowitz recently remarked, “Countrywide’s unconscionable behavior harmed American consumers on a massive scale and we are proud to be getting every single dollar back to hundreds of thousands of struggling consumers who can least afford to lose the money.”   The refund checks are only a portion of the FTC’s commendable work.  That is, the settlement order also prohibits Countrywide, and Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP’s successor BAC Home Loans Servicing, LP, from taking advantage of borrower’s in default and/or bankruptcy.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

In a modern-day evocation of David’s slingshot triumph over Goliath, a couple of foreclosed homeowners in Naples, Florida reportedly foreclosed on a Bank of America branch last week, their attorney actually having moving trucks pull up in front of a Naples branch to execute a foreclosure judgment against the bank.  To read the full story, click here.

Government Programs and Principal Reductions

Treasury officials confirmed that the Administration was examining principal reduction as a tool in the modification arsenal. Shortly thereafter, Bank of America unveiled a principal reduction program for borrowers whose LTV ratios are more than 120% (which is a large percentage of Nevadans as approximately 62% of our market is thought to be underwater).  Hopes have been high as they were with prior announcements of principal reduction programs.

The  Bank of America program targets three mortgage products:  1) subprime loans; 2)payment-option mortgages with negative amortization features; and 3) 2-1 adjustables that offered teaser interest rates for the first two years then converted into annual adjustments. The program is an earned or phased in approach to the reduction. The idea being, if you stay current over a specified period of years, you will gradually earn the whole of the agreed upon reduction amount.

Following suit, Wells Fargo has also put together a selective principal reduction program for certain underwater loans. The hope is that, either through in-house or government leaning, principal reduction programs will begin to take root.  Accordingly, be aware and intrigued; question your lender or servicer if you are interested in keeping your home. If your inquiries are shut down or you are not certain as to what type of loan you purchased, you can utilize state or federal regulations to help you get the information that you need.

Tisha Black Chernine, Esq.

Tisha Black Chernine quoted in the RJ

BofA unit ordered to halt foreclosures

By John G. Edwards

A Nye County district judge has ordered ReconTrust Co., a unit of Bank of America Corp., to stop most of its foreclosures in Nevada, based on allegations made by a Pahrump woman.   To read the full article, click here.

Tisha Black Chernine talks to KKLZ

Click here to hear a clip from the KKLZ radio show in which Tisha Black Chernine, Esq., explains why banks stopped some foreclosure proceedings due to not being able to produce proper documentation.

Tagged with:

Click here to read Katherine Porter’s testimony before the Congressional Oversight Panel at the Hearing on the TARP Foreclosure Mitigation Program in which she describes how the allegations of legal errors in the foreclosure process may impact the housing markets, the soundness of banks, and the overall financial markets.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto on Friday said her office filed a lawsuit against Bank of America, seeking a court order to stop the giant bank from continuing to use deceptive trade practices against homeowners.  Click here to read the full article.

Tagged with:

Jail Foreclosure FraudThe leader of a nationwide investigation of foreclosure fraud told homeowners Tuesday that the probe will have some serious consequences for bankers.  To read the full article click here.

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