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1.2.2.4 Gather and Review Loan Documents

In defending mortgage loan foreclosures, it is critical to gather and review the loan documents. These documents tell the story about the particular financial transaction and the players involved. Rarely do homeowners’ stories come alive without their own testimony, but sometimes the stories found in the paperwork are more complete than those related by the homeowners. Furthermore, what appears in a paper story is usually irrefutable, and cases can be won on the paperwork alone.

While every effort should be made to obtain all the documents that the borrower signed at closing, the two most important are the note and the mortgage or deed of trust. Other origination documents such as the HUD-1 settlement statement, the TILA disclosure, the notice of right to cancel (if applicable), and the loan application should be gathered when possible. Note that for loan applications submitted on or after October 3, 2015, the HUD-1 settlement statement and TILA disclosure have been replaced with the TILA/RESPA Integrated Disclosures.

A payment history, preferably one for the life of the loan, should be obtained from the servicer to verify that payments have been applied correctly, that escrow accounts have been handled appropriately, and that improper fees have not been charged to the borrower’s account. Any written communication with the servicer related to loan modification or other loss mitigation alternatives should be collected. With these documents in hand a preliminary assessment of the borrower’s claims is possible. Chapter 8, infra, provides a detailed discussion of how to obtain documents and tips on handling documents once you receive them.