What exactly happened to Mayor Tony Yarber's mortgage? The Clarion Ledger published a story with the headline "Mayor's mortgage vanishes after election". However, the actual vanishing was a forgiveness of the mortgage by the lender. Anna Wolfe reported the details of his mortgage in a story that was thorough in the actual details. The article stated the Mayor's mortgage was released by Wells Fargo in April 2014 after he had not paid it for several months. It even included an audio recording of the Mayor describing his travails at the time during a sermon. However, Hizzoner responded to the story on Facebook:
What exactly did happen to his mortgage? Mortgage's are JJ's specialty so this correspondent made a trip to the courthouse last week and dug up the records on the Mayor's home (they are posted below.).
It's disappointing that the Clarion Ledger is continuing to allow unethical journalism to happen. Especially with misleading headlines that give the impression that an impropriety has taken place. A headline that states Wells Fargo won't say whether the house was paid for or forgiven is a gross mismanagement of the public trust, especially when the reporter Anna Wolfe was provided documentation by me from Wells Fargo that CLEARLY states it was a FORGIVENESS. In the past, I've allowed all types of things to be printed by both the CL and the Northside Sun that created clouds of mischaracter-ization. But, this is notice that it ends today. Any attempt to steal God's glory is an offense to Him. So, I'll let Him instruct on how to proceed. Stay tuned. TGBTG
Mayor Yarber purchased his home in 2002 with a $63,110 FHA loan from Union Planters Bank. It was amortized for thirty years. It is not known what the payments were but JJ will attempt to provide an estimate through some reverse engineering. The 30-year interest rates in 2002 were in the range of roughly 5.5% to 6.0% although they fluctuated higher during the year. The payment would be approximately $380 per month if the interest rate was 6.0% (using the Bankrate.com mortgage calculator).
A new deed of trust states that the Mayor refinanced the home in 2007 with Wells Fargo for $92,872. The principal increased by more than $30,000. The article states it was $40,000. JJ was not able to independently verify that figure but will assume it is true for the purposes of this post. Such a substantial increase in principal means the loan was probably a cash-out refinance. The loan was amortized for forty years. The loan had a fixed-rate amortization as the box for the ARM option is not checked. The deed of trust does not state the interest rate nor the amount of the monthly payment. However, a 40-year mortgage in 2007 was usually considered to be a non-conforming loan.
Wells Fargo filed a deed of release on May 16, 2014. Mayor Yarber provided a copy of the letter cited by Ms. Wolfe in her story. The April 29, 2014 letter states:
We're writing to let you know that due to inactivity on the above mortgage account, we are releasing the lien on your first mortgage with us. This means we will forgive the unpaid principal balance on your first mortgage loan and release you from any obligation to make payments on the loan now or in the future.There was no substitute of trustee notice filed at the courthouse. A lender files this notice when it is getting ready to foreclose on the house. A substitute of trustee notice means the lender chambered a round and has the finger on the foreclosure trigger.
So the nutshell version of the story is the Mayor got a typical FHA mortgage in 2002, refinanced it on a forty year amortization as he cashed out the equity, and then in 2013 stopped making payments for whatever reason. The bank forgave the loan on April 29, 2014.
The term "vanishing" was probably misleading as it gives the appearance that the story reports someone paid off the mortgage for the Mayor. Such a payoff would be highly suspicious and raise more than a few questions. However, the actual story delves into the details of the transactions and provides more accurate information. It is about a Mayor whose mortgage was forgiven by the lender, not paid off by someone paying to play. The term "forgiven" probably should have been used.
Kingfish note: That was the reporting on his mortgage, now for some opinion. The Mayor is a big boy and knew when he ran for office that his public records such as the mortgage would be examined. His financial judgment and record on matters such as this is fair game for criticism. If JJ is going to report on Frank Melton and his mortgages, it is only fair to report on Mayor Yarber's mortgage. However, the lack of a substitute of trustee notice gives credence to the Mayor's statement that the bank forgave his mortgage.