3 words that can slow a home foreclosure

April 24, 2009 11:15:10 PM PDT
Can you freeze a foreclosure by saying three words? The answer is ? sometimes. 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney has learned of a unique technique to forestall foreclosure. The idea is simple, the homeowner saying to the lender: "Produce the note." That's legal shorthand for: "Prove I owe you the money."

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American mortgages have been sliced and diced, bundled into complex financial vehicles, then sold around the world.

"I think the note has been sold so many times and they have become so sloppy with their paperwork it could be on a dumpster somewhere for all I know," said Jacci O'Brien, a Florida homeowner.

All the banking and financial managers know too, that is becoming a safety net for homeowners.

If the loan servicer can't prove they are collecting the money legally, the homeowner is off the hook -- at least temporarily.

"We've never seen a company produce the original note yet," said Attorney Chris Hoyer.

Hoyer set up a www.consumerwarningnetwork.com offering consumers advice and paperwork to pursue a "Produce the note" strategy. In Florida the strategy is forcing lenders to stop proceedings, buying homeowners precious time. But it has apparently never been tried here in California until now.

"They saved our house. She works day and night, day and night. We don't understand none of this. She is the one that did it," said Isabel Caporale.

Isabel and Richard Caporale are attempting to save their home. Debra Caporale their daughter in law. A different Florida attorney helped her by email.

"First, he said have your bankruptcy attorney file an amended schedule, listing the property is unsecured. Unsecured means that the servicer would have to stand up in court and say, 'It is secured we have the note,'" said Debra Caporale.

The Caporale's attorney Marc Voisenat did that, allowing him to say, "Produce the note." And on Friday the Caporale's went back in court hoping to be the first in a long line of homeowners successfully using the produce the note strategy in California.

"The judge gave us more time and they can't find the note yet, so we've got hope. Hopes, lost of hope," said Isabel Caporale.

Nothing was decided on Friday, but the note has still not been produced.

"They claim they have it, but I have no proof they have this note. You would think by now, it has been almost three months, they would have pulled out a copy if they had it," said Voisenat.

A recent study has found those documents are being lost an astounding 40-percent of the time. Now even without the note, the banks can eventually collect if they can prove they have the legal right to a note and have another one issued. But that takes time and for many in foreclosure time is needed to straighten out their financial situations.

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