Monday, April 25, 2011

TN Bankers Association Does Not Like Their Cup of Joe Powell

On April 14th, I published a post about proposed legislation regarding foreclosure laws in Tennessee and my concerns that it would be harmful to homeowners.

On Friday afternoon, I received the following email from Amy B. Smith, Associate Counsel for the Tennessee Bankers Association, which is backing this initiative. I'm always glad to hear from readers and wanted to share the email with the rest of you:

From: Amy Smith
Subject: Proposed Foreclosure Notice Publication Law
Date: Friday, April 22, 2011, 4:05 PM


I just came across your recent blog “TN Legislature Hates Homeowners” and was quite disappointed of the false depiction presented in the title, and especially in the content of what you posted. It could not be farther from the truth, and a little bit of research on your part would have prevented all of the misinformation you cite.

Saying that this legislation will hurt homeowners could not be farther from the truth. The legislation is intended to do just the opposite – it would reduce the financial burden placed on homeowners facing foreclosure by (1) reducing the number of times an advertisement of a foreclosure sale must be published in a newspaper from three times to two (original bill provided for one time, but an amendment will be offered to increase it to two), and (2) clarifying that the advertisement must only contain a reference to the deed book and page number rather than the full metes and bounds description (an amendment has already been offered that further clarifies that the description must also contain the street address and map and parcel number.

Below are a few key points about the bill – what it does, and, more importantly, what it does not do – that will clearly show just how off-base your blog is.

It would only replace the lengthy and hard-to-read metes and bounds description with a reference to the deed book and page number. It would not eliminate or otherwise change the content of foreclosure sale advertisements.

It would not eliminate any actual notice to the debtor. The debtor would continue to receive late payment notices, notice of default, notice of collection, and, most importantly, notice of the foreclosure sale by certified mail.

It would not shorten the foreclosure process, which takes a minimum of 100 days.

It would not affect publication requirements for any foreclosure under deed of trust that specifically requires foreclosure notices to be published three times.

Banks do not pay the costs of foreclosures, property owners do. The cost of advertising in a newspaper can be as high as $2,500.

50% of foreclosures sales that are advertised in newspapers do not happen, which means that those property owners were able to make up their late payments and avoid foreclosure by also paying the costs of the advertisements, which at $2,500, is as much as one or two mortgage payments.

TBA supports this legislation because reducing the cost of the foreclosure process is one of the most effective ways to help prevent a homeowner from losing his/her home once the foreclosure process begins. Banks lose money on foreclosures, and the last thing they want to do is be in the real estate business.

If you have any questions or would ever like to call into question a bill backed by TBA or the character or integrity of our association or the state legislators we support, I encourage you to please research first, write later. Maybe then, you could avoid writing stores as inaccurate and completely misleading as this one.

Amy B. Smith
Associate Counsel
Tennessee Bankers Association
211 Athens Way
Nashville, TN 37228-1603
Phone: 615-244-4871 ext. 116
Fax: 615-324-1994

Now I have to wonder a few things after receiving from such a communication from this organization's legal counsel. First, I'm flattered they think my opinion and it's availability to the public has such worth and value that it demanded a response from their attorney. And I have a few other thoughts too, but first let me share with you the email I sent back to Amy Smith this morning:

Dear Amy,

Thank you for reading my blog and offering your comments as Associate Counsel for the
Tennessee Bankers Association regarding the bill under consideration in the Tennessee legislature. I'm always happy to hear from readers!

And thanks too for your offer to respond to any questions I might have in relation to this
legislation. I'll put some thoughts together and send them along shortly.

I must note, however, you're quite mistaken that I had "misinformation" in my post. The articles I cited, 2 from the NYTimes and 1 from a blogger and 1 from an editorial in the Knoxville News Sentinel, were accurately quoted. Another error you made was that my headline on the post was a statement of fact. It was not - it was a question. And yes, I do have concerns that the current chairman of the TBA, Craig Fitzhugh, is also a House member, and a co-sponsor of this legislation.

The rest of the post was my opinion - which I will continue to offer readers, such as yourself, and to my elected representatives. I look forward to continued communication with you and trust you realize your emails and comments may be used on my blog as I continue to discuss public policy issues in our state government.

Thanks again for your support,
Joe Powell

I wonder if their legal counsel also communicated with the editorial board of the Knoxville News Sentinel, which termed the bill "shameful"? I may be wrong, but I think the AP ran that editorial statewide as well.

I wonder if their legal counsel also communicated with the New York Times reporters or editors whose reports noted that leaders in Congress find enormous fault with the current economic collapse should lay at the feet of our financial institutions?

I wonder if their legal counsel communicated with the blogger at A Disgruntled Republican, which I also quoted in my post, or did they communicate with the EPPC he mentioned, which is opposing the removal of all government notices from publication requirements in newspapers?

Or did their legal counsel just communicate with me about their feelings for my opinion on this public policy issue?

And over the weekend, I read more on the legislation, such as this report by Chas Sisk at the Tennessean:

Proper notice is not going to be given when the process of foreclosure used in this state is one in which it is already pretty easy to foreclose,” said Art Powers, president of the Tennessee Press Association and publisher of the Johnson City Press.

The bill could ultimately threaten the state’s foreclosure law itself, Baker said.

If Tennesseans conclude they are not being told enough about foreclosures, they could demand courts to take a greater role. That would slow the process and lead to costs far higher than the price of advertising, he said.

“This thing is not broken,” he said. “I think it’s a bad bill for both sides.”

Well, as I wrote to Amy Smith, I do have more questions and I do appreciate that she reached out to me to offer to help me understand it. I hope to share more of our discussions and thoughts on this topic and others in the days ahead.

And of course, you are free to share your thoughts here or anywhere else too!

NOTE: See latest UPDATE here.


  1. Anonymous11:27 AM

    Could it be that Amy Smith is related to Andy Smith, a Hamblen Countian who has not been among your biggest fans?

  2. now that you mention it, Andy Smith is vice-chairman of the TBA ...hmmm ...

  3. Anonymous12:50 PM

    Or Will Smith aka The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire?

  4. now, that's Willow Smith, who does that wicked crazy Whip My Hair Back and Forth song ...

  5. oh and i'm pretty sure Will and Willow think i'm way cool.

  6. Anonymous11:40 PM

    $2,500 for an advertisement of the sale?? If that were correct, then NO real estate agent could afford to advertise a house.
    Sounds like the lamestream dead tree industry is just pulling a rip-off. Oh? Official notice publication? Well that will be...ah...20 times the normal, but we won't add the usual gratuity...

  7. Anonymous11:56 PM

    I like banks, bankers and banking associations. They have only our best interests at heart -- always. Most are really non-profits with executives daily toiling in thankless jobs.

    No, really! There's nothing to fear from banks, honest. The autobot signatures are a myth.

    Ever hopeful and trusting,
    Future foreclosure refinance client

  8. Anonymous11:59 PM

    Joe, Did you ever see the movie Road to Perdition..?

    I'm jus' sayin'.

  9. Anonymous1:36 AM

    Good questions.