The latest statistics have been compiled, and our neck of the woods is making the news again. Just as the State of Florida hits the top spot for foreclosures in the United States, Broward County is first in the state for foreclosure filings.
858 Days to Foreclose in Broward County, Florida
Right now, it takes 858 days for a foreclosure to proceed from start to finish in the State of Florida. Do the math, and that boils down to 2.35 years. A foreclosure filed today in Broward County, under this timeline, will be finalized in January 2015. That’s three Christmases from now.
From the Foreclosure Market Report for September 2012 and Q3 by RealtyTrac, their report states:
Florida foreclosure activity in the third quarter increased 14 percent from a year ago, the third consecutive quarter with an annual increase and boosting the state’s foreclosure rate to highest in the nation. One in every 117 Florida housing units had a foreclosure filing in the third quarter, more than twice the national average.
Florida’s foreclosure rate also ranked highest in the nation in September, the first time since April 2005 that Florida has held the No. 1 spot. Florida foreclosure starts in September increased 24 percent from a year ago — the 11th straight month with an annual increase — and Florida bank repossessions (REO) increased 23 percent year over year — the ninth straight month with an annual increase.
Larry Tolchinsky’s Tip:
This is the bottleneck that we reference so often on this blog: since Florida is a judicial foreclosure state, where banks must file a lawsuit and get a judgment to foreclose on a home, the courts must be involved and this Foreclosure Fraud mess (the bankers like to call it the “housing crisis”) has simply overwhelmed the clerks and the judges and the whole courthouse process. They weren’t expecting and they weren’t prepared for all these banks to sue to get all these houses, and so there is a bottleneck in the system.
We’ve also written and warned about the movement to change Florida from a judicial foreclosure state to one where the court process isn’t used. Many states do this, they are called “non-judicial foreclosures” and sure, things move faster in those states. In the RealtyTrac report, things are zipping along in those states.
Florida Foreclosures Involve Lawsuits. This is Good.
Here’s the point. Florida foreclosures involve lawsuits. This is a good thing because it is a process that allows judges and the judicial process to oversee what the banks are doing as they move to take away someone’s property. This protection is extremely important, and the ones that are trying to change things are not invested in protecting home owners. They are interested in protecting their bottom line.
Florida needs to stay a judicial foreclosure state. Just think of all the different kinds of fraud we’re seeing — bank fraud, servicer fraud, appraisal fraud, insurance fraud, contrator fraud, etc. — and think about how things would be if there weren’t judges to double check things. The Liberty Bank case is a great example of how courts stop banks from doing bad things (there, the bank had its deficiency judgment against the home owner/borrower overturned by the court because the bank had not provided proper evidence of the home’s fair market value).
This Means That Florida Home Owners Will Be Parties to a Foreclosure Lawsuit. This is Not Bad.
For Florida home owners, especially Broward County home owners facing the possibility of foreclosure, you will be facing a lawsuit that is going to be around for a long time. That’s true. It can be stressful. It can be frustrating. It can hamper your ability to move forward. And yes, your credit record will be hit as well as your lifestyle.
You will be a party to a lawsuit. You will be a defendant. You will be served with papers as part of the process (their “complaint”). You will need to file your response to them (your “answer”). They can serve you with official requests to turn over documents. You can do the same. They can take your testimony under oath before the trial in a deposition. You can take a deposition of the bank’s representative, too.
It’s in this foreclosure lawsuit that you get that time-honored Day in Court. It’s in this lawsuit that you can fight with your defenses — some of which you may not even know exist until you get the bank’s file through the “discovery” process. It’s in this lawsuit that you can take your case to a judge who may understand what’s going on very, very well because he’s seen the bank’s bad acts coming before him in other past cases over the preceding months.
Things like robosigning and faulty affidavits and such. In this Wild Wild West of Foreclosure Fraud, that courtroom is your field of battle where things like rules of evidence and procedural rules forcing production of documents and the taking of testimony help to level that field between Big Bank and Single Home Owner.
Florida foreclosure defense attorneys help people every day here in Broward County and South Florida will all sorts of foreclosure defenses and foreclosure alternatives. We work with people on fee structures and help them with the emotional burden and stressors that come with being in a law suit.
And we are proud and honored to do so. Sure, Broward County may be number one in the country right now in foreclosures — but we’re also pretty darn high in fraud and bad acts here in Florida. Helping Florida families in Florida courtrooms is important and fighting for right is never a bad thing.
Do you have questions or comments? Then please feel free to Chat with Larry in the comments below, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (954) 458-8655. If you have a specific situation, please call or email Larry because he can’t answer specific fact questions in general comments. He’s happy to take your call.