The Miami Herald is covering the news about what’s happening in Florida with foreclosure sales right now: homes that were priced at $250,000 or more are being bought at Palm Beach County foreclosure sales in January 2011 for as little as $200.00.
That’s right: two hundred bucks.
And, if that seems too good to be true, rest assured, it probably is. Savvy real estate investors are staying away from these bargains. Why? For several reasons, including there’s likely to be a problem with obtaining clear title to the property. Also, you can’t trust these properties to be properly and legally available for purchase. Already, there’s talk that lots of them were sold without the required auction advertising. Consider the following:
1. The big lawsuits are already beginning. The 4th District Court of Appeal recently approved a class action suit against the Law Offices of David J. Stern, for example, where thousands of homeowner plaintiffs are collectively suing for illegal and excessive reinstatement fees.
2. The Florida Attorney General is fiercely investigating Foreclosure Fraud throughout the state, and this week Florida AG Pam Bondi announced that in addition to criminal investigations into false court documents being filed in Florida foreclosures as well as the infamous robo-signing activities, the state is also looking into various types of lawyer misconduct at the big law firms like David Stern’s, where most of these wham-bam phony Florida foreclosures were done. Apparently, the Attorney General is looking into more than just the big four foreclosure law firms: (1) the Law Offices of David J. Stern, (2) Shapiro & Fishman, (3) the Florida Default Law Group and (4) the Law Offices of Marshall C. Watson, and they aren’t setting any deadlines for themselves on getting the job done.
To read the Florida Attorney General’s recent 98-page overview on Florida Foreclosure Fraud, go here to download “Unfair, Deceptive and Unconscionable Acts in Foreclosure Cases,” which was prepared and presented in December 2010 by the Economic Crimes Division to the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers.
Wrongful Foreclosures and Voiding Foreclosure Sales
The reality is that lots of these too-good-to-be-true bargains are exactly that: too good to be true (or legal?). The buyers of these properties should hope for the procrastination or apathy of those with the ability to bring suit to attack these bad sales. It’s all about the law, and a court order will be needed to erase these low ball sales. How does a former homeowner obtain a court order? You file a lawsuit and ask for one.
In some situations, besides the Attorney General’s efforts, a blanket lawsuit involving many plaintiffs may do the trick and bring justice. However, if it’s your home that just sold for less than the cost of a laptop, then maybe it’s time to fight and not wait and hope that someone else will fight for you.
It’s not over till it’s over and there are laws on the books to protect you. Maybe you can still win even if your home was sold on the auction block.