Florida Foreclosure Proceedings Moving Like Molasses

When it comes to the overwhelming backlog of foreclosure cases in Florida, it appears the courts have made little progress in wading through it all. honeyonaspoon.jpg

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know this is despite a $4 million stipend the courts were granted by the state legislature earlier this year specifically to deal with the problem.

The Palm Beach Post recently addressed the issue in a front-page, Sunday story, detailing that as of the end of October, there were nearly 380,000 foreclosures pending throughout Florida’s 20 circuit courts. What that means is that since the money was awarded to the courts in July, there has only been a reduction of 435 cases – total – when new filings were factored in. There were approximately 69,500 cases closed, but another 69,080 cases opened during the same time frame.

Judges have countered that the number of new foreclosure filings is the problem, claiming they have continued to be filed at a faster rate than old cases can be closed.

Another major issue is the fall-out from the robo-signing debacle. Previously, banks had been churning out foreclosures almost as fast as they could be filed. Problem was, of course, that very few of those were legitimate. So for a time, there were freezes on a number of the cases pending the outcome of the National Mortgage settlement, which was settled for $26 billion in March. So now, banks are having to work within the tedious legal framework necessary to complete a foreclosure.

The Chief Judge in Palm Beach County was quoted as saying that while he is disappointed by the numbers, the reasons behind them are crystal clear.

While economists rarely tend to agree on much of anything, most do concede that addressing the foreclosure crisis here in Florida is going to be key to a healthy economy here in this state, and throughout the country. Along with that goes the issue of abandoned and vacant homes that have decreased other property values. Plus, construction, which is a critical component of Florida’s economy, is going to remain stagnant or lagging unless and until the foreclosure backlog is significantly slashed.

This slow-down has prompted some court systems to act more creatively. In Miami-Dade, for example, judges are beginning to set cases for trial on their own. This forces both sides to come to the table much faster than they might otherwise, and the judge then makes a hasty decision.

There are multiple and substantial concerns about whether this procedure allows anyone adequate time to prepare, or if it’s just an updated form of the “rocket-docket.” Others have referred to it as a “cattle call.”

In fact, the only real cases where such procedure might be appropriate would be ones in which the borrower has failed to respond.

Otherwise, the problem is that when you speed up the process, you create ample opportunity for error. And sometimes, plowing through these cases can result in undermining efforts by both the bank and the homeowner to work through a short sale or loan modifications.

In Miami-Dade, there are roughly 50,100 foreclosure cases still pending. Due to the actions of local judges, this district has cleared the most foreclosures since the additional money was awarded in July. Our area received approximately $630,000 of the $4 million, and has cleared nearly 12,000 cases total.

To ensure that your rights are protected throughout the foreclosure process in Miami-Dade, call us today.

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. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

Additional Resources:
Foreclosure cases moving like mud, Dec. 10, 2012, By Kimberly Miller, The Palm Beach Post
More Blog Entries:
Foreclosure Watch: “Worst” Robo-Signing Company Exec Pleads Guilty, Nov. 21, 2012, Miami Foreclosure Lawyer Blog