October 2010 Archives

October 30, 2010

Recent developments can help stop foreclosures in Miami as banks increase pace of property seizures

While foreclosures in South Florida are not likely to slow anytime soon, the options for fighting or stopping foreclosure in Miami continue to improve.

The "robo-signing scandal," in which many of the nation's leading mortgage lenders were forced to halt foreclosures after admitting that employees and lawyers signing documents had done little or nothing to verify property ownership and accuracy of the foreclosure action, has left homeowners with improved chances of fighting for their rights. In some cases, a Miami foreclosure defense lawyer can fight a deficiency judgment. In other cases, you may be able to negotiate a monetary settlement or even fight to keep or reclaim your property.
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Recently, the Miami Herald reported that lenders had actually increased the pace of home foreclosures and real estate auctions before the scandal. South Florida led the nation in the third quarter of 2010, with 59,064 homes in distress in the Miami metro area. That's up 24 percent from this summer and a 9 percent increase over the same period one year ago.

It was enough to rank the area 7th for the most foreclosures nationwide; locally, one in every 41 homes is in some form of foreclosure.

A representative of California-base RealtyTrac noted South Florida foreclosures are increasing even as foreclosures in other hard-hit areas seem to be on the decline. "In contrast to what we're seeing happening in the other foreclosure hotspots in Nevada,
California and Arizona, many of the metro areas in Florida are actually posting increases from a year ago,'' said Daren Blomquist. "Whereas the foreclosure activity in other areas is going down."

RealtyTrac's analysis included Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Figures show lenders had more than doubled the pace of foreclosures in Miami-Dade, taking 5,842 homes in the third quarter, compared to 2,032 during the same period a year ago. A total of 12,963 homes were claimed by banks in the three-county region.

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October 19, 2010

Mortgage mess could drag on for years; foreclosed homeowners could still win settlement or beat deficiency judgments

The paperwork nightmare that has snarled the foreclosure crisis will result in lawsuits and investigation that will drag on for years, if not decades, MSNBC reports.

For those who have already lost their home, consulting an experienced Miami foreclosure attorney could permit you to fight a deficiency judgment, win a monetary settlement or even reclaim your home. At this point, struggling homeowners stand an excellent change of stopping foreclosure in Miami with the assistance of a Miami foreclosure defense firm. A number of major banks have been forced to halt the foreclosure process and the sale of foreclosed homes after questions about their tactics and the tactics used by the law firms that represent them. Federal lawmakers and President Obama are also questioning their actions and calling for independent investigations.
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Of primary concern is the fact that bank representatives and their attorneys have apparently signed off on ownership of hundreds of thousands of properties without adequate knowledge or proof that the bank was the rightful owner -- millions of mortgages, after all, had long since been packaged and sold to investors as securities. Meanwhile, lawmakers accuse banks of stalling, being intentionally obtuse and ignoring the pleas of struggling homeowners trying to work out a reasonable deal to save their home.

Both JPMorgan Chase and Ally Financial (formerly GMAC) are facing skyrocketing numbers of homeowner lawsuits and investigations by a number of state law enforcement agencies -- not to mention both houses of Congress.

In December, a GMAC employee testified that he and a team of 13 employees signed 10,000 documents a month without verifying accuracy.

Meanwhile, the cost of title insurance is increasing and at least one title insurance company has indicated it will not insure foreclosed titles from some of the banks in question. About one-fourth of U.S. home sales in 2010 have involved properties in some form of distress, whether short sale or foreclosure.

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October 16, 2010

Dealing with foreclosure in Miami is first step toward repairing your credit score

Homeowners facing foreclosure in Miami have contributed to an "F" rating for Fort Lauderdale and Miami residents by TransUnion, one of the nation's top three credit scoring companies.

Many homeowners are afraid to enter the foreclosure process or to speak to a foreclosure lawyer in Miami, in part because they are concerned about the impact on their credit score. The reality is that a single late payment or missed payment can lower your score by 100 points or more. By the time a homeowner begins to consider foreclosure an option, the damage to a credit score has largely been done by late payments on mortgages, credit cards, car payments and other bills. Ironically, putting a foreclosure behind you, and regaining control of your finances, is the first step to repairing your credit worthiness.
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The Miami Herald reports that TransUnion found that about one-fourth of South Florida residents had a credit score in the 500s during the second quarter of 2010. That qualifies the area for the agency's lowest rating; the company rates credit worthiness on a scale of 501 to 990.

South Florida was at the bottom of 50 metro areas ranked by TransUnion, along with Orlando, Memphis and Las Vegas. The Minneapolis-St. Paul region came out on top with about 23 percent of residents having a score of more than 900.

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October 13, 2010

Bank of America first to halt foreclosures nationwide; Miami attorneys can assist homeowners

The foreclosure chaos became a full-blown crisis late last week when Bank of America announced it was halting foreclosures nationwide in the wake of allegations that banks and their attorneys have been processing tens of thousands of foreclosures a month without adequately verifying ownership or the accuracy of other court paperwork.

South Florida residents who have lost homes to foreclosures should consult a Miami foreclosure lawyer about their options. In some cases, you may be able to negotiate release from any deficiency judgment. In other cases, you may be able to win a cash settlement or even make a claim for the return of your property. Struggling homeowners looking for help stopping foreclosure in Miami should consult an experienced attorney right away. Recent developments dramatically improve your chances of winning a favorable outcome from banks that have been uncooperative for far too long.
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MSNBC reported that Bank of America is the first bank to halt foreclosures nationwide, although PNC Financial Services Group Inc. and GMAC announced moratoriums that included Florida and many other states.

A spokesman for Bank of America also said the average foreclosed borrower had not made a payment for 18 months by the time a foreclosure was finalized. The halt to foreclosure actions is bound to increase that backlog, providing struggling homeowners who fight foreclosure with even more time to rebuild the family's finances.

Meanwhile, the Senate Banking Committee has announced it will hold hearings next month to look into whether some of the nation's largest lenders have improperly foreclosed on struggling borrowers.

"American families should not have to worry about losing their homes to sloppy bureaucratic mismanagement or fraud," said panel Chairman Christopher Dodd.

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October 12, 2010

Questionable bank tactics could result in claims for damages by foreclosed homeowners

Congress and the Obama Administration are weighing in on the issue of the legal and ethical behavior of banks during the foreclosure crisis. As the allegations of illegality grow, and the foreclosure crisis grinds to a halt in South Florida, the issue could allow people who lost their homes to foreclosure in Miami to make a claim.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers can seek a waiver of any deficiency judgment or a cash settlement. In some cases, you may be able to stop foreclosure or even argue to reclaim your property.
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MSNBC reports that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats are pushing for an investigation into bank practices. At issue is the ownership of hundreds of thousands of mortgages that were packaged and sold as investments by banks that later foreclosed on the properties. Some of the nation's largest banks -- including GMAC and Bank of America -- have been forced to halt foreclosures in South Florida and throughout the nation as evidence has surfaced that the banks and their attorneys were signing off on thousands of foreclosure cases without adequate knowledge of bank ownership.

Meanwhile, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has also called for an investigation and President Obama vetoed a measure last week that would have made it easier for banks to foreclose.

Democrats are also pointing to an "apparent pattern" of practices that led to the foreclosure crisis, which they contend could have been avoided.

"The excuses we have heard from financial institutions are simply not credible three years into this crisis. People in our districts are hurting," said a letter signed by 30 Democratic lawmakers to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, the nation's top law enforcement officer. "It is time that banks are held accountable for their practices that have left too many homeowners without real help."

Among the claims are that banks have failed to respond to efforts by homeowners to seek loan modifications or other relief. And that banks have failed to respond in a timely manner, misplaced requested documents, and have sent mixed signals about what is required to avoid foreclosure.

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October 11, 2010

Fair treatment for South Florida homeowners more likely as judge's tire of bank's attorneys in foreclosure cases

A judge in Manatee County has held a bank's law firm in contempt of court for missing foreclosure hearings -- the latest sign that the tide is starting to turn in favor of homeowners looking to stop foreclosure in Miami and throughout South Florida.

Our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys recently reported on our Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog that GMAC has been forced to halt foreclosures in Florida in the wake of allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the bank and its lawyers. After several years that witnessed massive numbers of foreclosures, the playing field is beginning to level out and homeowners with an experienced attorney stand a solid chance of winning a fair deal.
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In this case, the judge fined the Fort Lauderdale law firm $49,000 for repeatedly missing foreclosure hearings, according to the Miami Herald. Judges have grown frustrated with the antics of banks and their attorneys in the wake of more than 1.33 million Florida foreclosure filings and nearly 200,000 repossessions in the last two years.

And, when they do show up at hearings, banks and their attorneys have not properly filed all the necessary paperwork in at least one-fifth of the cases, according to the chief judge of the 12th Judicial Circuit, which covers Manatee, Sarasota and DeSoto counties. Last month, a judge dismissed 61 of 258 cases on his docket because the banks' attorneys did not follow proper procedures.

Besides the $49,000 in fines, the judge also ordered the firm to pay $450 to homeowners for lost wages and to pay an HOA for its legal costs in connection with the missed hearing.

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October 10, 2010

Mortgage mess could allow foreclosure defense lawyers to help Miami homeowners who have lost homes to foreclosure

The mortgage mess that is grinding the foreclosure process to a halt in Florida is a big deal and it is likely to get much bigger. Essentially, the charges are that banks and a few select law firms that represent them, have acted so improperly that you may have a claim to get your house back. In most cases, the banks cannot even prove they own the home, paperwork has been lost, and mortgages have long since been sold as investments.

Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers have been encouraging struggling homeowners to contact us if they want to help stop foreclosure in Miami. As the extent of the "robo-signers" scandal becomes more and more evident, those who have lost homes in South Florida in the last four years may have a means of seeking a recovery. Even if you don't get your house back, you may be able to negotiate a waiver of any deficiency judgments.

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A Palm Beach County judge has ruled that Attorney General Bill McCollum lacks standing to file a subpoena against a Boca Raton law firm under fire for its work on behalf of banks in handling South Florida foreclosures.

The Miami Herald said the ruling blocks, for now, the growing investigation into the firm's foreclosure practices.

At issue is the work done by several law firms on behalf of banks. Attorneys fighting for homeowners have successfully argued that those signing off on thousands of foreclosure cases on behalf of banks and their law firms have no way of proving ownership. Most mortgages, after all, have long-since been packaged and sold as investments.

While lawyers on behalf of Marshall Watson, Shapiro and Fishman, one of the law firm's whose work on behalf of banks has come under heavy fire, hailed the judges ruling and called for an end to the state investigation, the Florida Attorney General's Office said it was considering its options, including an appeal.

The Attorney General has accused the law firm and two others of using fraudulent documents to speed up the foreclosure process. Meanwhile, GMAC, JP Morgan Chase and Bank of America have halted or slowed the foreclosure process in dozens of states after bank employees admitted to signing thousands of documents without knowing details of the case.

Florida leads the nation in foreclosure filings with more than 400,000 cases this year alone.

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October 9, 2010

The Mortgage Bankers Association Strategicaly Defaults on its Mortgage!

Homeowners in Miami and South Florida paying out of fear they can't stop foreclosure once it starts should see this investigation by Wyatt Cenac of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The Mortgage Bankers Association's strategic default on its $75 million mortgage for the MBA headquarters barely made news. The MBA says no shortsale, loan modification, or deed-in-lieu for anyone trying a strategic default, except their own.

If you need help with foreclosure issues in Miami or the surrounding areas, including short sales, deficiency judgments, strategic defaults or other help for Miami homeowners, contact our South Florida foreclosure defense firm for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 350-5055.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Mortgage Bankers Association Strategic Default
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
October 9, 2010

Foreclosure defense lawyers stopping foreclosure in South Florida by challenging bank ownership

Banks are being forced to slow or halt the foreclosure process as foreclosure defense lawyers in Miami and elsewhere have accused them of cutting corners in the race to foreclose on thousands of properties, the New York Times reports.

As we first reported last month on our Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog, GMAC -- the nation's fifth-largest mortgage lender -- was forced to halt foreclosures after an executive essentially admitted that he could not guarantee that the bank even owned the properties in question.
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One bank after another -- GMAC, Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase -- have slowed or halted foreclosures in response. Those who have lost their homes to foreclosure to one of these banks may have a claim to get it back. Consulting with a Miami foreclosure defense lawyer is the best option. While you may not get your home back, you certainly may have increased bargaining power to eliminate any deficiency judgments you might otherwise face.

Most of the confusion involves the vast majority of mortgages that were packaged and sold to millions of investors on the secondary market. The banks no longer have the mortgage notes and the reliability of the computerized tracking system is questionable at best.

Simply insisting that a bank prove ownership before proceeding with a foreclosure has permitted foreclosure defense attorneys to halt the process in many cases. Experts say evictions and foreclosure sales are expected to slow dramatically as a result -- even lenders with no problems are expected to approach homeowners in default with more caution and more respect. And in many cases they will be seeking a solution short of eviction and foreclosure.

In many cases, families that bought homes from lenders may be vulnerable to legal action from the former owner. Consulting a Miami real estate lawyer is the best bet to protect your rights and the financial well-being of you and your family.

Thus far, both GMAC and JP Morgan Chase have acknowledged the possibility of legal missteps in the foreclosure process and have suspended foreclosures in the 23 states that require court approval, including Florida.

Defense lawyers say both GMAC and Chase are in trouble because they tried to cut corners and process foreclosures as cheaply as possible.

Meanwhile, this latest example of ineptness on the part of banks will likely lead to and even longer foreclosure process. Last year, the length of time it took to foreclose on a house increased, from 319 to 478 days. In many cases, the homeowner can live in the home during that period rent free, as they work to build the capital necessary to move on with their life and ensure their financial well-being.

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October 8, 2010

Jon Stewart and the Daily Show on Florida Foreclosure Mill Fraud and Robo-signers

Jon Stewart jokes about Banks that foreclosed on thousands of homeowners in Miami and South Florida using false affidavits. Foreclosure Mills like the law offices of David J. Stern, Marshall Watson, and Shapiro & Fishman all allegedly had robo-signers who sometimes signed 10,000 false affidavits a month! Investigations by the Florida Attorney General, the Florida Bar, and the FBI were started. Even though Jon Stewart is a funny man, this is not really a laughing matter.

Homeowners may have valid claims if their homes were taken by fraudulent practices in a court of law. The banks could be liable for attorneys fees. In egregious cases, the bank may be more inclined to waive deficiency judgments, pay money damages, or even return the property.

If you need help with foreclosure issues in Miami or the surrounding areas, including short sales, deficiency judgments, strategic defaults or other help for Miami homeowners, contact our South Florida foreclosure defense firm for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 350-5055.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Foreclosure Crisis
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorRally to Restore Sanity
October 5, 2010

Yet another government program aims to help stop foreclosure in South Florida

Yet another plan floated by lawmakers last week would permit 30 million homeowners to refinance their mortgage at record-low rates regardless of their credit history, MSNBC reported

The Democratic plan is the latest sign that help is coming and it may even help stop foreclosure in Miami and throughout South Florida. Hiring a foreclosure defense lawyer in Miami can help assist you in exploring all of the options and determining the best course of action for you and your family.
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This latest plan would allow for 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages at the prevailing market rate -- which now stands at about 4.3 percent -- for anyone seeking to refinance a government-backed loan.

But the plan faces an uphill battle in Congress. If passed, it would be more comprehensive than the narrow efforts so far backed by the Obama Administration. As we reported on our Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog, government plans are not right for everyone and statistics show that about half of homeowners who have enrolled in such plans have since dropped out.

In the present market conditions, many homeowners are unable to take advantage of mortgage rates, which are near all-time lows, because of falling home values, declining incomes and tighter lending standards.

Under the new plan, government agencies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the Federal Housing Administration and the Department of Veteran Affairs, would be directed to refinance mortgages at the request of homeowners. While it would not subsidize negative equity, the plan would permit underwater borrowers to lower monthly payments by refinancing at a lower rate.

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