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The Good, the Bad, and the Muddy -The new rolling statute of limitations

A recent ruling by the 5th District Court of Appeal has thrown into question longstanding case law that established a five-year statute of limitations on foreclosures, leaving many people wondering if the new ruling could apply to them. In short, the answer is maybe. The ruling pertains to foreclosures with a very specific set of circumstances. But given the number of foreclosures in which a lender files, and then dismisses a case because of faulty or incomplete paperwork, many are likely to have similar situations. Courts previously have relied on case law establishing the five-year statute of limitations, and in 2012, a ruling out of the 3rd District Court of Appeal in Miami, the...

2014 Mortgage Rules could provide recourse against the modification run-around and dual-tracking

A law that took effect in January will open the door for thousands of people to be able to seek recourse against their mortgage lenders and loan servicing companies whose tactics made it difficult or impossible to work through modifications or defend themselves against foreclosure. The Dodd- Frank Act was signed into law in 2010 but significant portions that change how mortgage lenders and servicers do business has become effective just this year.  The rules are designed to protect homebuyers from risky mortgages and shady mortgage practices.  Anyone wrestling today with a lender or loan servicer may be able to sue for damages. The changes require lenders to provide the borrowers...

Foreclosure filings down by almost half – are we recovered?

The Palm Beach Post reported this week that foreclosures are down 49 percent from last year and 9 percent from January. For some, that’s a sign that the real estate industry has improved. But if you’re the person still going through a foreclosure, it likely doesn’t matter what the numbers say. When it’s your home in foreclosure, it doesn’t matter whether the rest of the economy has rebounded, it doesn’t matter whether the courts are clogged, and it doesn’t matter that others have “recovered.” The new numbers make it easy for the general public to believe that troubles are over for the housing industry. That would be naïve. Several other sets of numbers show a...

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...
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