An audit of several hundred foreclosures in Northern California uncovered a host of legal and ethical violations, mirroring the situation with foreclosures in Miami and across the country.
Our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys know how difficult it can be to trudge through the foreclosure process. Many people, not wanting to lose their homes or damage their credit, continue to pay on homes they'll likely never be able to afford and are ultimately going to lose. Their money, essentially, is wasted.
It is even more infuriating when information like this emerges, showing that the banks, who aren't playing by the rules, continue to profit from the housing crisis that has plagued homeowners across the country, and particularly in South Florida, since 2008.
In these cases, officials in San Francisco analyzed data from about 400 foreclosures that had happened between January 2009 and November 2011 in that region. They found that nearly every single one involved at least some illegal or suspicious action, the New York Times reported.
The negligible actions ranged from infractions like failing to let borrowers know when they had gone into default, as the law requires, to seizing and selling houses that the banks had never proven ownership of.
In fact, in 84 percent of those cases, researchers said they found what appear to be very clear violations of law on the part of the lenders. And in two-thirds of the cases, there were at least four irregularities or violations. A Miami real estate attorney can turn the tables on the banks, using these discrepancies to defend the homeowner.
A Suffolk University Law School professor, Kathleen Engel, was quoted by the Times as saying that if there had been any doubt before about whether the quandary with foreclosure loan documents was confined to a few instances, this information should blow that theory out of the water.
The report emerges just days after the federal government signed a $26 billion settlement among five major banks attorneys general in 49 different states, including Florida. The settlement is supposed to cover the banks' blunders (intentional or otherwise) over the foreclosure process. The settlement outlines a number of conciliatory measures the banks have to take, and those include paying $1.5 billion to former homeowners who were unfairly taken out of their homes. That breaks down to about $2,000 for each homeowner - hardly a drop in the bucket for someone who may have spent far more than that trying to hang onto their homes, their credit and some sense of stability.
Moreover, there are already reports of states taking the vast majority of this settlement money and dumping it into the gaping holes in their budgets. In other words, states took a payday and joined the growing group of those who have profited on the backs of homeowners.
What the study suggests is not necessarily that each of these homes shouldn't have been foreclosed upon or that every single bank has committed wrongdoing. However, it does seem to illustrate the growing trend - as our Miami foreclosure attorneys have seen - of instances in which banks acted improperly and even illegally interacted with homeowners. This is why having an experienced lawyer on your side is so important in these cases, because we are familiar with the trends - and the tricks that are pulled by these financial institutions to maximize their profits.
Researchers in California rightfully noted that just because the banks have settled over these issues does not grant them immunity to continue to commit these illegal acts. In fact, city officials in San Francisco intend to forward their report not only to the state's attorney general's office, but also to federal authorities, who we hope would look into the possibility of filing criminal charges against these financial institutions.
And individual homeowners can still hire an experienced Miami foreclosure defense law firm -- and Negotiate from Strength!
If you're battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas, contact Jacobs Keeley for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991.
SF audit finds foreclosures riddled with errors , By Gretchen Morgensen, New York Times
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