A few years ago, just after the housing bubble burst, I ran into an old friend of mine who is a real estate agent in St. Lawrence County. We were talking about the economic disaster caused by large banks buying, packaging and re-selling thousands and thousands of mortgages, often without the traditional safeguards regarding prospective home owner financial capacity, accurate valuations of homes being bought, and so forth. She said she regularly saw agents of national mortgage companies driving around the north country to check out properties before issuing loans to buyers. Or, rather, she saw their “drive bys”–zipping past a house to establish that it existed, but nothing more. No wonder dicey loans were extended across the country. My local bank visited and inspected my farm twice before even issuing a home equity loan (for about 1/5 the value of the house).
Fast forward four years. Today, this piece in Pro Publica (the online investigative journalism publication)–a list of some of the largest fines levied against the banks that, among other things, engaged in questionable mortgage practices.
I went to the website of the National Association of Realtors and found a very basic list of 10 questions to ask before settling on a mortgage loan. And, on a related topic, check out Joanna Richards’ story on federal concern about financial scams and fraud perpetrated on members of the military, particularly around mortgage deals.
Here’s a link to a substantial wikipedia overview article on mortgages.
I’m curious about smaller banks located in northern New York and Vermont. Were any of these cited for similar nefarious activity, albeit on a smaller scale? I’m digging…but if you have any articles or links to recommend, please do.