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Foreclosure issue demands patience, not politics

Recent headlines about the foreclosure issues that hit the newswires on Oct. 8 demand patience and calm discussion, according to Jan Miller, chairman of the Oklahoma Bankers Association. In a news release Miller expressed his disappointment in political actions of a group State Attorneys General who issued a press release suggesting some of these lenders have violated various state laws.

“A number of banks and other lending institutions have discovered some potential procedural problems and have voluntarily suspended foreclosure activity,” said OBA Chairman Jan Miller. “The suspensions are totally voluntary and have been undertaken by lending institutions to make certain they are doing everything they can to comply with individual state laws.

“To imply that somehow the lenders are the bad guys in this dilemma is nonsense,” Miller said. “The fact is, foreclosures come about because people aren't paying their bills, a fact that Edmondson conveniently missed in his rush to issue a press release.” Miller is president and CEO of the Bank of Commerce, Chelsea, and is also located in Catoosa.

Miller pointed out that in some cases employees in the mortgage foreclosure operations may have signed affidavits about loan documents on the basis of file reviews done by others in the institution, without having personally reviewed the loan files. As a result, those entities have begun to systematically re-examine documents that have been filed in current foreclosure actions. Once those reviews have been completed, updated affidavits will be filed if appropriate.

Miller noted that several members of Congress and a number of State Attorney's General have called for a nationwide moratorium, but this is precisely the wrong reaction to the current problem.

“If all foreclosure proceedings are simply halted across the country, borrowers from coast to coast – those current on their mortgage loans and those who are behind – will be the losers,” he said. “Home prices will be depressed even further than they already are, and what little economic recovery is going on will come to a halt. Any call for an arbitrary moratorium will badly disrupt an already fragile economy.

“Moreover, there is absolutely no evidence – anywhere – that any borrower has been harmed,” Miller said. “No one wins in a foreclosure action, especially the bank. But when people simply don't pay their mortgage – for whatever reason – there aren't many realistic alternatives.

"But some borrowers simply can't be helped enough, either because they over-bought, lost their jobs or simply refuse to pay,” he said. “Whatever the reason for their default it's critically important to the process that the foreclosure effort be conducted under the appropriate procedures, and that's what's going on here with the overwhelming majority of banks across the country.”

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