NEWS AND ANALYSIS
COMMENTARY: HOUSING PRICES STABILIZING WHERE LENDERS CAN ENFORCE CONTRACTS
Data from Case-Shiller, Lender Processing Services and other housing trackers suggest that the housing rebound is strongest in states where lenders can enforce contracts, according to an editorial in yesterday's Wall Street Journal. The editorial refers to the difference between "nonjudicial" states that have streamlined foreclosure procedures and the 23 "judicial" states that force lenders to go to court to enforce mortgage contracts. Prices are stabilizing in the former but still faltering in much of the latter. Housing markets cannot clear until lenders can foreclose on delinquent borrowers and prices fall far enough to attract buyers who can afford the mortgage payments, according to the editorial. Politicians and housing lobbyists decry nonjudicial foreclosure as unfair to borrowers, but every homeowner in any state has the right to challenge a foreclosure in court, regardless of whether they live in a nonjudicial state. The main difference is that in a judicial state the lender has to file a lawsuit to initiate a foreclosure, which can take months or years to settle depending on the state. Lender Processing Services estimates that the foreclosure inventory in judicial states is more than triple that of nonjudicial states. The Mortgage Bankers Association's latest National Delinquency Survey, which ended September 30, showed that of the top five states with the highest share of loans in foreclosure, four were judicial: Florida (13.04 percent), New Jersey (8.87 percent), Illinois (6.83 percent) and New York (6.46 percent). Read the full editorial. (Subscription required.)
ANALYSIS: SHORT SALES IN CALIFORNIA SURPASS SALES OF FORECLOSED HOMES
Real estate research firm DataQuick is reporting that short sales in California in recent months have surpassed sales of foreclosed homes for the first time since the start of the housing crash in 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported yesterday. The transactions now represent about a quarter of the market, a surge driven by rising home prices, government crackdowns on foreclosures and banks' increasing capacity to process the deals. Lenders have revamped short sale departments, streamlining paperwork, creating new software systems and enlisting newly formed companies as liaisons with borrowers. Some institutions are even paying homeowners sizable sums to move, similar to "cash for keys" arrangements used as an alternative to eviction in foreclosures. Bank of America pays up to $30,000 in relocation assistance for certain successful short sales. JPMorgan Chase will pay up to $35,000. Wells Fargo offers similar aid, though it declined to specify an amount. Read more.
LENDER REVIEW OF BORROWERS TIGHTENED UNDER CFPB'S NEW MORTGAGE RULES
The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau issued a rule today that for the first time forces lenders to verify borrowers’ ability to repay mortgages by confirming income and assets, Bloomberg News reported. The rule, mandated by Congress in response to lax underwriting standards before the 2008 financial crisis, will also offer some legal protection for lenders who follow guidelines for qualified mortgages. The measure also insulates issuers of qualified mortgages at prime interest rates from future lawsuits. The qualified-mortgage rule will apply to home loans in the underwriting phase, whether made by banks such as Bank of America Corp. and/or non-depository originators. The rule on repayment ability is the first in a series of rules that the CFPB will issue that will shape the post-crisis mortgage market. The bureau will unveil rules on mortgage servicing at a Jan. 17 hearing in Atlanta. Read more.
CONSUMER DEBT INCREASES ON MORE CAR, SCHOOL LOANS
The Federal Reserve issued a report on Tuesday showing that consumers increased their borrowing in November by $16 billion from October to a seasonally adjusted record of $2.77 trillion, the Associated Press reported yesterday. Borrowing that covers autos and student loans increased $15.2 billion. A category that measures credit card debt rose just $817 million. The sharp difference in the borrowing gains illustrates a broader trend that began during the Great Recession. Four years ago, Americans carried $1.03 trillion in credit card debt, an all-time high. In November, that figure was 16.5 percent lower. At the same time, student loan debt has increased dramatically. The category that includes auto and student loans is 22.8 percent higher than in July 2008. Read more.
LATEST BLOOMBERG "BILL ON BANKRUPTCY" VIDEO: FEE AGREEMENT PUTS LAW FIRM IN TRUSTEE'S SIGHTS
Law firm Kaye Scholer LLP and financial advisor Capstone Advisory Group LLC are in the sights of a U.S. Trustee aiming to claw back $12 million for an undisclosed agreement to share fees awarded in the now-completed bankruptcy of GSC Group Inc. In their latest video, Bloomberg Law's Lee Pacchia and Bloomberg News bankruptcy columnist Bill Rochelle pose the question of whether the dispute involves a serious ethical lapse or a hypertechnical reading of an ambiguous statute. Click here to view.
CHAPTER 9s, NONPROFITS AND OTHER NONTRADITIONAL RESTRUCTURING PROCESSES AMONG TOPICS TO BE DISCUSSED AT ABI'S 31ST ANNUAL SPRING MEETING
The 2013 Annual Spring Meeting, to be held April 18-21, 2013 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., features a roster of the best national speakers, while the depth and scope of topics offer something for everyone. Specifically, four concurrent workshops will cover various “tracks,” including programs for attorneys in commercial cases, a track for restructuring professionals, a track of professional development programming and a track dealing solely with consumer issues. More than 16 hours of CLE/CPE is offered in some states, along with ethics credit totaling 3 hours, making the cost only about $50 per credit. In addition, committee sessions will drill down on other topics to provide you with the most practical and varied CLE/CPE experience ever. Sessions include:
• 17th Annual Great Debates on Hot Business and Consumer Topics
• Mediation: The Rational Alternative
• Creditors’ Committees and the Role of Indenture Trustees and Related Issues
• Current Issues for Financial Advisors in Bankruptcy Cases
• The Individual Conundrum: Chapter 7, 11 or 13?
• The Power to Veto Bankruptcy Sales
• Real Estate Issues in Health Care Restructurings
• Law Firm Bankruptcies
• How to Be a Successful Expert
• The Ethical Compass: Multiple Ethical Schemes Applicable to Financial Advisors
• Chapter 9s, Nonprofits and Other Nontraditional Restructuring Processes
• And much more!
The Spring Meeting will also feature a field hearing of the ABI Commission to Study the Reform of Chapter 11, a report from the ABI Ethics Task Force, a luncheon panel discussion moderated by Bill Rochelle of Bloomberg News, and a Final Night Gala Dinner featuring a concert by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts!
ABI LIVE WEBINAR: REVISITING RADLAX AND HALL- NEW LEGAL AND PRACTICAL IMPACT OF THE DECISIONS
See why this was the top-rated panel at the ABI Winter Leadership Conference last month! Join the expert panel on Feb. 19 from 12:00-1:15pm EST as the summarize and discuss the legal impact and practical implications of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decisions in Radlax and Hall. Participants include:
• Susan M. Freeman of Lewis and Roca LLP (Phoenix)
• Adam A. Lewis of Morrison & Foerster LLP (San Francisco)
• Prof. Charles J. Tabb of the University of Illinois College of Law (Champaign, Ill.)
• Eric E. Walker of Perkins Coie LLP (Chicago)
Click here to register!
LATEST CASE SUMMARY ON VOLO: ELLIOT V. SUTTON (IN RE ELLIOTT; 5TH CIR.)
Summarized by Brendan Gage, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Eastern & Western Districts of Arkansas
Affirming the judgment of the District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit held that a bankruptcy court may sua sponte convert a debtor’s chapter 13 case to a case under chapter 7 even when the debtor opposes conversion and moves to dismiss the case pursuant to § 1307(b).
There are more than 700 appellate opinions summarized on Volo, and summaries typically appear within 24 hours of the ruling. Click here regularly to view the latest case summaries on ABI’s Volo website.
NEW ON ABI’S BANKRUPTCY BLOG EXCHANGE: EXAMINING CALPERS’ LOSS IN THE SAN BERNARDINO CHAPTER 9 CASE
The Bankruptcy Blog Exchange is a free ABI service that tracks 35 bankruptcy-related blogs. A new post examines the decision of a bankruptcy judge to deny the motion of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CALPERS) that it filed in the bankruptcy proceedings of the city of San Bernardino to have the automatic stay lifted with respect to overdue pension payments. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Jury based her denial partly on the city’s representations that forcing the payment of outstanding CALPERS obligations at this time would be a “death knell” for the city.
Be sure to check the site several times each day; any time a contributing blog posts a new story, a link to the story will appear on the top. If you have a blog that deals with bankruptcy, or know of a good blog that should be part of the Bankruptcy Exchange, please contact the ABI Web team.
ABI Quick Poll
After Stern, bankruptcy courts do not have the constitutional authority to enter final judgments on fraudulent conveyance claims.
Click here to vote on this week's Quick Poll. Click here to view the results of previous Quick Polls.
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