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Massachusetts high court voids title when a buyer purchases property from an owner who obtained title through an improper foreclosure

October 19th, 2011 by Joseph William Singer

In an important but almost inevitable case, Bevilacqua v. Rodriguez,  2011 WL 4908845 (Mass. 2011), the Supreme Judicial Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts held that a lender who does not follow proper procedures to foreclose on property cannot pass good title to a subsequent purchaser. The court’s earlier ruling in U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n v. Ibanez, 941 N.E.2d 40 (Mass. 2011) had held that a nonjudicial foreclosure cannot lawfully happen unless the party conducting the foreclosure can show requisite assignments of the mortgage given it the right to foreclose. In Bevilacqua, the original buyer Rodriguez granted a mortgage to MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc.) as nominee for the real lender Finance America, LLC. At the time of the private foreclosure proceedings, MERS had not formally assigned the mortgage from the original lender to U.S. Bank National Association (US Bank); for that reason, the foreclosure brought by US Bank was invalid. The buyer at the foreclosure sale (also US Bank as trustee for a securitized pool of mortgages) could not therefore transfer good title to the property. Thus the buyer Bevilacqua had no title to the property and no standing to bring a quiet title action against the original owner/borrower. The court did suggest that the buyer could sue the bank from whom he tried to obtain title in order to get relief either in the form of damages or actions would satisfy the statute of frauds and actually result in a clear transfer of title from the original owner to the subsequent buyer.

 

Posted in Consumer protection, Mortgages, Real estate transactions, Statute of frauds | Comments Off on Massachusetts high court voids title when a buyer purchases property from an owner who obtained title through an improper foreclosure

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