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Palm Beach County Bankruptcies Rise – but penalties are easing

They thought it was bad a year ago when there were 323 bankruptcies filed in Palm Beach County. The Sun-Sentinel is reporting that in September, 2013, the number is up 8.4 percent from a year ago to 350 cases. This is despite the unemployment rate dropping and foreclosure rates dropping. Chalk it up to one more sign of the selective recovery and a job market that still leaves employees struggling to pay their bills. Recent news from the Federal Housing Administration may lead more people to consider bankruptcy as an option out of a difficult financial situation. The new minimum guidelines for obtaining a FHA loan make allowances for economic events beyond the borrower’s control –...

Foreclosures drop below 300,000 but properties remain in distress

So, for the first time since 2008, there are fewer than 300,000 foreclosures in Florida’s courts. The Palm Beach Post reported earlier this week that the number of cases statewide dipped to 299,055 in August, a dip attributed to the fast track foreclosure law that went into effect July1. But don’t let the name fool you. Nothing is moving fast under the new law. Banks, who were supposed to be able to use the new law to speed up foreclosures, have stalled filing new cases because of the new law’s provisions requiring that they attach an affidavit saying they possess the mortgage note when they file. They can’t comply. Some homeowners have been aided as judges push cases forward...

The double-edged sword of a foreclosure dismissal

Homeowners are facing a double-edged sword in the fallout from the fast-track foreclosure law passed during the 2012 legislative session. The fallout no doubt was not the vision Legislators had when they passed the law that was expected to hurry cases through the court system and help clear foreclosures from the landscape. Foreclosures have slowed to a trickle in South Florida because of the tougher standards for lenders to file cases. The law now requires that each lender attach an affidavit that says the lender holds the note in the case. Since the law took effect, foreclosure filings have dropped like a rock compared to the same period last year – filings were down 61 percent in Palm...

A win – but potentially a big loss for homeowners

A recent decision out of the 2nd District Court of Appeals shows that courts in Florida still are more concerned with expediency than the rule of law. The foreclosure case of Deborah Focht v. Wells Fargo resulted in the appeals court reversing Focht’s foreclosure in late September. As in countless foreclosures throughout the nation, this case was overturned on the issue of whether the bank had the right to foreclose – whether it had standing. And as in countless other foreclosures, the bank did not produce the promissory note that establishes standing until months after it had filed foreclosure. While the trial court ignored the defense, the appeals court reversed the case....

Chase settles forced-place insurance class action suit

A cautionary tale for anyone struggling to pay their mortgage Most people who have a mortgage on their homes pay their taxes and homeowners insurance as part of their monthly payment. For people facing foreclosure or struggling to pay their mortgage, their issue is complicated if they stop paying their monthly payments that include the taxes and insurance. Lenders have the right to buy an insurance policy to protect their asset. And since it’s not in the lender’s interest to shop around, homeowners often got stuck facing exorbitant homeowner insurance rates. In some cases, it’s the additional cost of the forced-place insurance that has caused homeowners to go into...

Checks coming from EverBank as Independent Foreclosure Review winds down

More checks are in the mail because yet another bank has chosen to pay a fine rather than have its mortgage lending practices scrutinized through the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. This time, it’s EverBank, which will send checks to about 32,000 customers. The good: getting a check from EverBank doesn’t prevent anyone from pursuing other legal action related to their foreclosures. The bad: courts still haven’t gotten it that these payouts are allowing the lenders to go largely unpunished, keeping valuable information about the lenders’ fraudulent practices hidden. The ugly: The OCC continues to review mortgages of only one lender – OneWest. Every other lender has...

Second Day of Open Consultations

Korte & Wortman, P.A., will offer a second day of open consultations, this time in the firm’s Broward County office for homeowners struggling to make their mortgage payments or who are in foreclosure. Homeowners can visit the office for a free 30-minute consultation on Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. No appointment is necessary. After-hours consultations also will be available by appointment, and phone consultations also will be accepted. Call 954-246-0047 or toll-free 888-997-0220 for an after-hours appointment or phone consultation. “Our first open consultation day was tremendously successful and provided an opportunity for many people to discuss their...

The future of Fannie and Freddie

Recently President Obama said it’s time for private investors to take a larger role in the mortgage market. That would seem to be a good idea if private investors could be held responsible for the soundness of those home mortgages. Currently, the huge government-backed mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac prop up 2 out of every 3 mortgages in the country, according to a USA Today report. Recall that when they failed in 2008, taxpayers bailed them out with almost $200 billion. “The days of a guaranteed government bailout are over,” President Obama said in his speech on housing delivered in Phoenix earlier this month. Fannie and Freddie don’t make loans, but repackage loans...

Foreclosure filings slow down as fast-track law takes effect

Blame the requirement that lenders actually have proof of ownership! A report in Thursday’s Palm Beach Post says Florida’s new controversial fast-track foreclosure law actually is putting the brakes on foreclosure filings. This, according to The Post, is because the law that went into effect July 1 requires that lenders have paperwork in order – including proof of ownership. That doesn’t mean anything is slowing down in South Florida’s foreclosure courts. Chief Judges are doing what the fast-track law apparently isn’t. They’re setting for trial numerous old cases that neither lenders nor borrowers have pushed. Expediency has been the goal. Common sense would indicate that...

School Supply Drive!

The law office of Korte & Wortman, P.A. is collecting school supplies to help area students begin the school year prepared. Join us in supporting Vista Center’s neighborhood school, Grassy Waters Elementary. Bring donations anytime during August during office hours (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.) to Korte & Wortman 2041 Vista parkway, Suite 102 West Palm Beach, FL 33411 (across from the entrance to The Villas at Emerald...
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