IndyMac Bank tried to get its money back. It lent a New York homeowner a $292,500 adjustable-rate mortgage that was never repaid.
The case ended up in court, where IndyMac claimed to be owed more than $525,000 despite the property's value having fallen to $275,000.
Then IndyMac Bank was taken over by regulators and sold off in March
. But the mortgage note remained.
That is, until a recent ruling by Suffolk County Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Arlen Spinner wiped out the mortgage debt and its accrued interest and prohibited IndyMac -- now represented by IndyMac Mortgage Services -- from attempting to collect.
But was it a mortgage miracle for the borrower just in time for Thanksgiving, or a costly debacle for the entity now claiming rights to the mortgage note?
The ARM had an original principal of $292,500 and an initial interest rate of 10.375%, according to Spinner's statement
. The representative from IndyMac Mortgage Services, a division of OneWest Bank, claimed to service the loan on behalf of Deutsche Bank, which owns and holds the note and mortgage.
The IndyMac representative would make no concession on reaching a settlement, despite multiple attempts to "obtain meaningful cooperation," Spinner said. "[I]t was celeritously made clear to the Court that Plaintiff had no good faith intention whatsoever of resolving this matter in any manner other than a complete and forcible devolution of title from Defendant."
The IndyMac representative even claimed the homeowners received an offered forbearance agreement and defaulted soon after.
"[I]t was only after substantial prodding by the Court that [the IndyMac representative] conceded, with great reluctance, that [the forbearance agreement] had not been sent to [the borrower] until after its stated first payment due date and hence, Defendant could not have consummated it under any circumstances," according to Spinner's statement.
The justice's ruling cancels both the $292,500 adjustable-rate note and the mortgage registered with Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems (MERS). It also vacates the foreclosure sale granted on Jan. 12, 2009 and prohibits IndyMac from attempting to collect on the mortgage.
It remains unclear how widely the justice's decision will be applied to other cases where falling home value and ballooning interest payments make repayment impossible. But what is clear, from statements one of the homeowners made to media outlets, is the outright dismissal of the mortgage was never expected.
"We never asked for this," the homeowner told Newsday
. "I was shocked, honestly."
"It's not like we said, 'Judge, please throw the loan away.' We just wanted [IndyMac] to be reasonable."
Write to Diana Golobay