Oppenheim Law on South Florida Mortgage Morals and Ethics: To Strategically Walk or Not?

NYT Magazine Writer Roger Lowenstein hits it on the head when he takes Mortgage Bankers to task, Plus why I believe MBA President John Courson is WRONG and CLUELESS

Roger Lowenstein, an extremely well respected financial journalist took the trade association for mortgage bankers (the MBA) to task in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine for calling homeowners “immoral” who strategically walk away from their mortgage obligations. Lowenstein points out that Wall Street walks away from their obligations all the time and effectively asks how they dare call the kettle black.

New York Times Magazine: Walk Away from Your Mortgage

For more than a year now through the South Florida Law Blog, monthly Florida foreclosure defense workshops and social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter @OPLaw, Oppenheim Law continues to help homeowners and other real estate holders such as investors and second homeowners. A constant and key consideration is determining the sense of continuing to pay a mortgage that is upside down and may remain that way for many years to come.

Oppenheim Law believes foreclosure defense strategies are not a moral issue, but an issue of what is economically rational. However, John Courson, President of the Mortgage Bankers Association, decided this past week to enter into the discussion when he was quoted in the WSJ as saying: “Homeowners should think about the ‘message” they will send to their families and their kids and their friends.” He was somehow trying to convince all of us that there is still a social stigma to walking away.


The fact is the evidence has arrived that the social stigma of foreclosure is eroding quickly, and once one embraces the process, there is a sense of freedom or liberation that my clients frequently experience. They no longer feel enslaved to the bank or to the payments and are able to get on with their lives. Of course there is nothing wrong with first fighting the Bank over whether the loan was even valid in the first place.

John Courson

Pictured above is John Courson, president of the MBA. “John Courson, read my words: You are so wrong… In fact you don’t even have a clue!” says Florida foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim.

Ironically, or paradoxically, Courson stepped into the largest of hornets’ nests. Lowenstein points out that Wall Street and the businesses they acquire walk away from debts all the time! Just ask Morgan Stanley that walked away from commercial mortgages after they purchased certain properties at the wrong time. Or private equity firms that buy businesses and then close them down to pick out the bones. Is that not a form of walking away? As opposed to keeping the folks employed and trying to build a better company? But NO… NO ONE would call John and his lobbyist friends immoral for allowing the banks to get bigger than the government and then have the nerve to flaunt it over and over again with the mantra that the banks are “too big to fail.

John… let me tell you a little secret: The banks are not too big to fail… THEY are TOO BIG! You know if the banks were still like the one Jimmy Stewart ran in “It’s a Wonderful Life,” folks would still feel an obligation to their banks and bankers. But not when the Banks have an asset base larger than most countries in the world, and when you never get to talk to someone that you personally know.

So John answer me this… what do you tell your children at night?

Do you tell them you lobbied the taxpayer for the largest bailout in the Nation’s history after creating a system that allowed for unfair and deceptive trade practices to rule the day due to lax oversight because of pure politics?

Do you tell them that the Attorney Generals are now after your members for creating an organizational environment from the top down that created a festering hive of immoral and unethical activity such as making loans to folks who one knew would default, yet the loans were bundled and sold to teachers and firemen all over the world as their retirement?

Or the fact that mortgage applications were intentionally doctored by your members staff or brokers who also helped get inflated appraisals?

And John don’t forget to let them know you had a big hand mortgaging their futures and their grandchildren’s future. Tell them NOW that one day they will need to add a zero onto every dollar bill because the dollar will be so devalued we will copy our neighbors in South America. Let them know now, John, who the moral one was! Make sure you send them the right “message.”

I invite your comments, tell us what you think?

Tags: @OPLaw, John Courson, Mortgage Bankers Association, New York Times Magazine, Oppenheim Law, Roger Lowestein, social stigma of foreclosure, wall street

5 responses to “Oppenheim Law on South Florida Mortgage Morals and Ethics: To Strategically Walk or Not?”

  1. Bruce Trout says:

    Why don’t you ask Mr. Courson why he walked away from his mortgage company without paying his employees what he owed them? I had $63,000 in defered compensation coming to me but he spent it all trying to save his sinking ship. Hundreds of branch managers lost their money too. One guy lost close to half a million. Besides the managers the rank and file hourly people did not get paid for the last two weeks of work they did. The managers money was also to pay employees, he spent it all before closing the company. He just closed the company with no advance notice and said no money for payday. He did pay off a lot of his buddies that loaned him money so he had money. He never filed bankruptcy so he was still solvent. He should be in jail

    • RoyOppenheim says:

      I appreciate your comments. I had no idea that the guy was truly two-faced. I thought that he was just hypocritical.

  2. David says:

    This is all well and good. Yet no one is talking about the effect that this is having to good hard working people who have been laid off from blue collar jobs (such as construction related workers) white collar professionals who are between the ages of 45 and 60 that can not get a job making a third of what they use to make. These people want to work and they want to pay their obligations and not walk away from their homes. Worst to be thrown out into the street with (family and children and) the possessions you have had to work hard to acquire. Let not talk about the couples that are breaking up do to the fact that the financial stress is to much to bear. Or the man (or woman) who commits suicide because they have no where to turn and no one to help them. You call the lenders or servicers for help and all they have working are people who have no compassion or desire to “make home affordable” or even care about helping. It about time that we all (and you all) stop pointing fingers an start finding solutions. All I see is a group of people getting richer while making the money on the misery of other Americans. Hey there are thousands of investor from all over purchasing these same home at 25 or 35 cents on the dollar.

  3. Mike M says:

    I understand the importance of honoring a contract such as the one between homeowners and their mortgage company, contracts and good faith is what our system is built upon BUT at this stage in this debacle to ask homeowners to destroy their family’s future because of some personal morality is self defeating and hypocritical. The banks and other corporations do not do the same so how can they ask this of the people they build their empire upon. NOT TO MENTION the banks are supposed to the experts and gov’t elected officials are supposed to protect all of us… You cannot tell me or any other sane, resonable person that the “powers that be” didn’t know the market was a house of cards build on the dreams of the people who’s greed runs only as far as the system allows them. If the banks & govt didn’t know this was going to collapse the bank exec’s should resign because they are not qualified to run a company. Also the govt. official should also retire and return the hush money he or she received as accomplices in this theft of the American homeowner’s dreams and home equity.

  4. Glenn says:

    Wow, this is ineradicable stuff! This is exactly the topic that keeps me awake at night, really awake. Short story, I am hard working guy 3 kids great wife 20 years together. the 1st 10 years were the classic story young kids barely making ends meet, sometimes work 2 or 3 jobs to pay the bills. Funny at the time I thought this was hard living. Now the last 10 years have been the classic American success story (or so I thought), my hard work has paid off, bigger and better jobs, moving into promotion that would require me to move every 2 or 3 years, to today where at 47 I have a income I never thought possible…and now 2 houses with $2000 a month mortgages on each that are completely upside down($100K each)! On top of this one of my family members has been out of work for months with end in sight (I keep pumping money to keep his family afloat) Now I am at a point where i have “white knuckled” 3 rounds of layoffs and know that at least one if not 2 are in the works. How does one even start to get out of this mess? The way I see it I would be a complete fool not to do something “defensive” while I have some control (income) but what is that? I have had people tell me “just mail in the keys” another real estate agent is trying to get me to buy a new (much cheaper home) while I short sale the 2 homes I own…how can that work! Is there a real option for someone with a good income to unwind a mess like this? The way I look at things best case maybe my current homes hit the break even point when I am 65! That ain’t gonna work.
    Any ideas are welcome…action must be taken, I can’t take this pressure any more.