Dirt lawyers: call your friendly, intelligent title insurance underwriter!
Unfortunately, failed banks are back in the news and again affecting the stock market and our 401(k) accounts. It is doubtful that the California and New York banks that have failed have significant assets or loans in South Carolina, but Chicago Title’s underwriters have heard of at least one recent local transaction that involved one of the failed banks.
How should real estate lawyers protect their clients and themselves?
First, here’s a link provides general information about failed banks: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/index.html
Next, remember that assets are not automatically transferred by state law to an acquiring bank when the FDIC is appointed receiver and simultaneously announces the acquisition of the failed bank’s assets. Also, remember that the acquiring bank is not necessarily a “successor” to the failed bank.
Such an acquisition does generally mean that we can treat the acquiring bank as the owner of certain loans of the failed bank. We can generally rely on payoff statements, releases, satisfactions, and foreclosure actions by the acquiring bank if the acquiring bank asserts that it is the assignee by purchase. Documents should recite that the acquiring bank is the assignee of the loan. And we should be able to rely on that recitation.
In foreclosure situations, the acquiring bank may be required to prove its ownership of the debt and its record interest in the mortgage.
Payoff statements from the failed bank may be relied upon and the payoff statement may be made at the failed bank’s direction. But any release or satisfaction executed in response to that payoff must come from the receiver or its attorney in fact. Closing attorneys should confirm that the appropriate signature will be obtained before making the payoff.
The FDIC should sign recordable affidavits, as receiver, to the effect that it sold the particular loan asset to the acquiring bank to support assignments and modifications.
If your client purchases an REO asset that was owned by a failed bank, the proper grantor in the deed will be the FDIC, as receiver for the named failed bank. The FDIC will likely grant powers of attorney to individuals at the failed bank, at the acquiring bank, or internally, to facilitate signing these deeds. The power of attorney should comply with South Carolina law.
FDIC Statement of Policy on Foreclosure Consent and Redemption Rights provides that where the FDIC holds a junior mortgage, it “hereby grants its consent” to any foreclosure by a holder of a bona fide senior mortgage. Your title insurance company may require notice to the FDIC and the acquiring bank.
My best advice in all these cases is to call the person who either knows the answer to your many questions or will find out the answers to each of these questions for you: your favorite friendly and intelligent title insurance company underwriter!