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Broward County Foreclosure & Alternatives Law Blog

'Zombie' foreclosures drop 54 percent in South Florida

One consequence of Florida’s foreclosure crisis was a surge in so-called “zombie” foreclosures. Many homeowners, frustrated by the slowness of the foreclosure process, and often deeply underwater on their homes, chose to abandon their property, leaving it empty and untended. A living dead house.

If the number of zombie foreclosures indicated the overwhelming size of the problem, news from the Miami Herald could suggest that the crisis is continuing to recede in at least parts of Florida. The paper reports that zombie foreclosures in South Florida have dropped 54 percent over the past year.

Who has the right to foreclose on a home is not always clear

Nobody, not even the banks, are supposed to be above the law in Florida. A foreclosure is a court action, and as with any court action there is a procedure that must be followed. This is to ensure that the rights of all parties involved are respected.

One of the basic rules of civil procedure is that a party initiating a lawsuit actually be the allegedly injured party. This is known as “standing” to sue. In foreclosure cases, the party with standing to sue must hold the promissory note and mortgage on the property in question, or be an authorized representative of the party that does.

Florida's foreclosure courts set to run out of money June 31

We have spoken before in this blog about Florida’s special foreclosure court. The state set up the courts in 2013 to deal with the huge backlog of foreclosure cases. The system has been somewhat controversial, and it may be going away soon.

The Palm Beach Post is reporting that the funds set aside to create the foreclosure courts around Florida are set to expire on June 31. For homeowners in the middle of foreclosure proceedings, this could mean that their cases will be transferred to new judges, which can be disruptive. But it may benefit borrowers in the long term.

Foreclosure rate remains high in Florida

Foreclosure and underwater properties continue to be major problems in Florida, compared with the rest of the country. The latest figures show that the state is still lagging behind the rest of the U.S. in recovering from the foreclosure crisis.

According to Jacksonville Business Journal, 3.2 percent of Florida’s housing market was in foreclosure in March. That is more than twice the national average that month, which fell to 1.5 percent.

Few homeowners expected to return to the market after foreclosure

Foreclosure has negative effects for homeowners that last long after they must give up their property to the bank, according to the National Association of Realtors. The group says that the vast majority of people who lost their homes to foreclosure during the recent crisis and since then probably will never buy a house again.

As reported by The Wall Street Journal, between 2006 and 2013 more than 9.3 million American homeowners either were foreclosed upon, voluntarily gave their home to the bank or sold their home via distress sale. According to the NAR, about 2.5 million of those homeowners have gone on to purchase a new home, or will have the financial means to do so by 2023.

Is Your Insurance Company Not Treating You Fairly?

There is a paradox in how most people think about insurance. Many people have a sense of security because of the policies they carry. At the same time, most of us understand that there is a strong possibility that should we ever have to file a claim, we may not receive the level of service we have contracted for with the insurance company. This leaves people in the powerless position of needing and paying for insurance that they have to hope will cover their needs when the time comes. 

It should not be like that. People enter into contracts with insurance companies where they pay for specific coverage should certain events occur like a car accident or property damage. The reality is that the insurance companies employ excessively complex contracts that allow them to unfairly interpret the coverage they need to provide when a claim is filed. More specifically, insurance companies take direct action to prevent having to payout on legitimate claims. When insurance companies act in bad faith to deny claims, some of the signs a policy holder can look for include:

Keep your home after foreclosure -- with no mortgage?!

In the past, we have discussed the huge backlog of foreclosure cases in Florida’s courts, and the creation of “foreclosure court” to try to deal with the problem. Florida law requires a judge to approve a lender’s seizure of a home, which is one reason for the delays in resolving foreclosure here.

In some cases, foreclosure cases linger in court for years, causing a great deal of fear and uncertainty for homeowners. But if they wait long enough, The New York Times reports, they may get to keep their home -- without a mortgage hanging over their heads.

How the federal HARP program saves Florida families' homes

During the recent foreclosure crisis, the federal government searched for ways to help people dealing with the possible loss of their home. One of the solutions the government came up with was the Home Affordable Modification Program, commonly known as HARP.

Introduced in 2009 by the Federal Housing Finance Agency, HARP can help homeowners get a handle on their mortgage payments. The program might arrange for a lower interest rate, a shorter loan term, or a refinancing from an adjustable-rate mortgage to one with a fixed interest rate.

How 1 Florida family lost their home to foreclosure

Until you have gone through it, you may not be able to understand what it is like to lose your home to foreclosure. We often talk about foreclosure trends in Florida, using data and broad strokes, but today we will discuss the story of a Florida man who went from homeowner to homeless in just eight years.

The man shared his story with PBS’ “NewsHour” program. He recently had to hand over the keys to the Fort Myers house he bought in 2007. At the time, he had a good job and plenty of savings. He bought the house with the plan to live there with his parents and brother.

How does short sale help you get out of foreclosure?

For some people, doing everything possible to stay in their home is a top priority when they are foreclosed upon. Others are ready to walk away from the property, especially if their home is underwater. That means the homeowner owes more on the mortgage than the home is worth.

For those stuck with an underwater home, it may be possible to sell it through a short sale. If the lender agrees to a short sale, it can be an effective compromise to stop foreclosure and mostly pay off the bank.

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