By Christine Springer
This is the story about about how I became a loan auditor. I find it so interesting that my loan audit business seems to be coming back around. That is very exciting, especially since we have some legal decisions to help people.
I started Desert Edge Legal Services in 2007 after moving from St. Louis to Phoenix. Before I moved here, I worked for a fantastic law firm called Lashly & Baer in St. Louis.
I started out there as a temporary legal secretary, then became a permanent employee. At that time, I was going to school at night while working full time, and when I graduated with my bachelors degree, they promoted me to paralegal. I continued going to school at night and in 2006, I graduated with my Master's Degree in International Affairs from Washington University in St. Louis.
Between analyzing legal cases and the first two semesters of grad school, I started to really hone my analytical skills. I like to say that L&B "raised me" to be a good paralegal, and I carry those skills and ethics with me even today. It was hard for me to watch everything that happened in the legal field because what I saw unfolding was in complete contrast to the talented people I worked with at L&B.
I worked for Fennemore Craig here in Phoenix for about a year after I moved to Phoenix. From there, I worked at a real estate developer, and I quit working there after about two months because I was miserable. From there, I decided to take a big risk and start a business.
When I started DEL, the main product was setting up LLC's and corporations. As part of learning how to market my business, I began networking and that's how I wound up helping people in foreclosure.
When the bottom dropped out of the real estate market in Phoenix, a lot of people began asking me for help with loan modifications. I thought, and still do, that an attorney is in the best position to negotiate a loan modification. I had met Beth Findsen through a networking group and we began our journey into foreclosure defense.
At that time, we didn't really think it was necessary to litigate, but it became pretty obvious quickly that we were going to have to file lawsuits.
After working with Beth, I began blogging about the problems I found in loan documents. We started out looking for Truth In Lending and RESPA violations, but it wasn't long before the banks began ignoring those problems and foreclosed anyway. The banks were already winning against homeowners in court, too, so it was time to find another way.
Around this time, there were a LOT of people hawking loan audits. Most were computerized software audits that looked great, but nobody knew what to do with them. There still weren't that many lawyers who understood foreclosure defense, and I have had quite a few lawyers tell me those cases were "losers."
By 2009, I began looking at the recorded documents for evidence, and I was shocked at what I saw. I routinely saw robo-signing, documents that I suspect were forged, multiple parties claiming the right to foreclose, documents that were not recorded in the correct order, MERS assignments, mortgage pools claiming to have the right to foreclose, and more.
You could say that I had my auditing system on lock by 2010. Early in the year, I met Barbara Forde, who needed help with her home. She had just won her case when Katrina Perkins Steinberger came to my office for a loan audit.
From 2011 - 2014, things were pretty bleak for homeowners in terms of the courts. I continued to work with a select group of clients, but started a few other businesses and took on some other work in the interim. I didn't feel there was any point to continuing to blog, and so I didn't do a whole lot of work outside of the handful of clients I had.
I told you earlier about the Sanchez case, and there are a couple of other victories that I can't discuss because of confidentiality. During this time, it was imperative that homeowners found another direction to get a better outcome. That's why I think the Chapter 13 adversary proceedings were so successful during that time -- it was a different venue than state courts.
During this period of time, I also went through a ton of personal change. I told you in an earlier post about how I lost my own foreclosure lawsuit, which contributed to my own disillusionment about being able to help people. I had finally moved out of my own place in 2013, but my eviction appeal dragged on until early 2014.
And then, in early 2014, I won my eviction appeal and Barbara Forde got the decision in the Steinberger case. It seemed like FINALLY things were shifting to a more equitable landscape in the courts for homeowners.
In my next post, I'll tell you more about exactly what a loan audit is.
Christine Springer is not an attorney and this is not intended to be legal advice.