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High-Speed Courts Try To Rush Through Foreclosures

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http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/business/05house.html?_r=1&ref=business

TEN days from now, a four-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac in Middleburg, Fla., is scheduled to be auctioned off at the Clay County courthouse, 25 miles south of Jacksonville.

A judge who recently took over their foreclosure case has ordered Rodney Waters; his fiancée, Terri Reese; and their four children to leave the home they bought in 2006.

Mr. Waters, a supervisor at a local packaging company and the family’s sole breadwinner, fell behind on his mortgage two years ago after his property taxes jumped unexpectedly. He now owes $264,000 on the house; a similar home down the street sold for $138,500 in February.

The predicament of the Waters-Reese family is common in Florida today. The state routinely sets new records for foreclosures — in the second quarter, 20.13 percent of its mortgages were delinquent or in foreclosure, a national high, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. And with housing prices still in a free fall, almost half of all borrowers in Florida owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, says CoreLogic, a data firm.

While the Waters-Reese case may not be unusual in Florida, the coming auction of the home is still notable: it will be a result of the Florida Legislature’s new effort to cut the number of foreclosures inching their way through the state’s courts. Earlier this year, Florida earmarked $9.6 million to set up foreclosures-only courts across the state, staffed by retired judges. The goal of the program, which began in July, is to reduce the foreclosures backlog by 62 percent within a year.

No one disputes that foreclosures dominate Florida’s dockets and that something needs to be done to streamline a complex and emotionally wrenching process. But lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges called in from the sidelines to oversee these matters are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners.

Lawyers say judges are simply ignoring problematic or contradictory evidence and awarding the right to foreclose to institutions that have yet to prove they own the properties in question.

“Now you show up and you get whatever judge is on the schedule and they have not looked at the file — they don’t even look at the motions,” says April Charney, a lawyer who represents imperiled borrowers at Jacksonville Area Legal Aid. “You get a five-minute hearing. It’s a factory.”

But Victor Tobin, chief judge in the 17th Judicial Circuit, which includes Broward County, defended the effort. “There are more assets devoted to those three foreclosure divisions in Broward than to any other division in the building in terms of case managers and that sort of thing to help the general public,” he said. “The people who come get fully, fully heard.”

So getting all of these foreclose properties should help house prices come down even more.

50% in negative equity! That seems a huge number.

I wonder how much on the borderline this guy was to suffer going into debt when property taxes increased. Was there a large increase in taxes at this point? Or just enough to shove those living on the edge over.

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  • 259 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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