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Buyers Beware of Buying Foreclosures

homestead exemptionForeclosures only seem like good deals today.  But if you’re going to buy a property being foreclosed then you really need to know what you’re getting. Therefore, buyers beware of buying foreclosures.  That’s why it is critical for buyers to perform all of the necessary due diligence prior to purchasing a foreclosed property.  As part of your due diligence, it is vital to have a home inspection performed by a qualified reputable home inspector. This way you’re going to know what you’re buying.  You need to get that home inspection performed on time so you can make an educated decision about the transaction.

The importance of knowing what you are buying cannot be overstated.

It happens every day where potential property owners fall into a trap.  The trap is when they believe in a property’s potential without consulting a qualified home inspector. They rush through the transaction thinking they are going to make a “quick buck” by flipping the foreclosed property, or they may just want to buy a cheap fixer-upper to make their dream home or office space.

Whatever the case may be, what inevitably happens most of the time is the buyer just purchased a bigger problem than they realized.  The property may require a lot of repairs, or worse a property that is condemned.

Of course, there may also be problems with the chain of title.  The foreclosure may not have been conducted properly by the foreclosing party which may mean that the buyer does not even own the property properly.  That would invariably result in additional litigation to clean up the chain of title and ownership rights.

Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough that if you want to make a successful foreclosure purchase here in Miami, take the time and effort to find a reputable home inspector that you can trust. Spend the money on hiring the necessary professionals to perform all the necessary searches and engage in the necessary due diligence to learn as much about the property as you possibly can.

Remember, buying a foreclosure is only a good deal when you take the appropriate steps to ensure that the property you are buying is worth the money and effort required.  Do not hesitate to contact us should you wish to discuss further.

Miami Appellate Court Reverses Foreclosure Judgment Because the Bank Failed to Properly Perfect Service of Process

rocket docket 001z.jpgThe 11th Judicial Circuit in Miami-Dade County is under a lot of strain. The strain stems from a “perfect storm” of events. First, the real estate collapse led to an explosion of foreclosure filings in Miami. Second, the real estate collapse also triggered an extreme economic down turn. That resulted in the court system, and, in particular, the courts here in Miami, to lose much needed financial resources. So the end result is that our courts have been asked to do more with less.

The courts initially tried to balance the interests of those being foreclosed on with the growing weight of increased filings. In Miami, a program was initiated that required all parties to attend mediation within a set time frame after the filing of a foreclosure. Filing fees were also substantially increased for banks filing foreclosures. Yet, these programs did very little to either slow the overwhelming number of foreclosures being filed, or help struggling homeowners.

As a result, the judiciary took it upon themselves to try and push these cases through the judicial system to help alleviate the strain our judiciary was facing given the foreclosure crises. The creation of the “rocket docket” has helped lower the amount of foreclosures currently pending in our judicial system, and possibly even helped fuel the real estate recovery that is currently underway.

But the “rocket docket” is not without its problems. The rush to judgment may actually create more work for the judiciary if proper procedure is not followed prior to judgment being entered.

For instance, the Third District Court of Appeal in Peysina v. Deutsche Bank reversed a judgment that was entered against the homeowner in large part because of the court’s rush to judgment and failure to follow proper procedure. Peysina stemmed from a judgment of foreclosure against Natalie Peysina. Peysina argued that service of process was not properly perfected on her at the commencement of the lawsuit. Apparently, the Bank was unsuccessful at serving Peysina and chose publication as an alternate route. The trial court ruled that service was proper and immediately moved for trial on the foreclosure.

The Third District Court of Appeal, reversed that ruling, stating that the trial court failed to hold an evidentiary hearing regarding the service of process. The court also explained that service of process by publication requires a conscientious and honest effort, appropriate to the circumstances, which must be made to acquire necessary information.

Moreover, the record does not demonstrate that the Bank exerted an appropriate effort under the circumstances to be able to effectuate personal service upon Peysina. For these reasons the trial court must conduct an evidentiary hearing to ascertain enough information to make a ruling on the service of process. Once this has been determined then the foreclosure hearing can be determined.

Have You Been Properly Served with that Lawsuit? Contact a Miami Foreclosure Defense Lawyer Today to Determine if You Have Been Properly Served with a Foreclosure Lawsuit and to Further Assess Your Rights and Alternatives to Foreclosure

process_service.jpgTwo recent court decisions from the Third District Court of Appeal highlight the importance of proper service of process. These two decisions are also powerful rulings that could be used to aid homeowners in defending a foreclosure if they have not been properly served with the lawsuit.

Service of process is the procedure used to give legal notice to a person (such as a defendant/homeowner in a foreclosure action) of a court’s exercise of its jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court. Typically, notice is furnished by delivering a set of court documents (called “process”) to the person to be served. Once service of process has been properly perfected, by the Plaintiff (such as a bank filing a foreclosure action against a homeowner), over the defendant (such as a homeowner), then the Court has jurisdiction to enter orders in the case. Such court orders could include the sale of the property. But the Court cannot sell the property unless service of process has been properly perfected.

In two very favorable rulings for homeowners facing foreclosure, the Third District Court of Appeal recently concluded that the bank could not sell the property at issue because the bank had failed to properly serve the defendant homeowners with the necessary legal papers to begin the foreclosure.

In the first case, Opella vs. Bayview, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that a foreclosure judgment needed to be reversed because the lender failed to properly notify the property owner of the legal action. The Appellate Court ruled that service of process was done improperly and that the lender could not proceed with the lawsuit given that service of process was faulty. The Third District Court of Appeal also referred the matter to the Florida Bar for further investigation to determine if the Bank’s lawyers violated any rules governing the practice of law in Florida.

The second case, Bennett vs. Christiana Bank & Trust Company, also involved allegations of improper service of process. And in that case, the Third District Court of Appeal again concluded that service of process was faulty.

In Bennett, the Third District Court of Appeal concluded that leaving lawsuit documents at a homeowner’s front door is insufficient notification and in violation of Florida’s service of process laws, and voided the final judgment.

These two cases illustrate how banks, and their lawyers, are often in a rush to commence legal proceedings to foreclose on your home. In light of all the “robo signing” allegations, and on going investigation launched by Florida’s Attorney General, it should come as no surprise that banks are also often cutting corners to perfect service of process.

However, even if you believe that the legal papers, and lawsuit, were not properly provided to you, if you fail to respond within 20 days, or otherwise act in a timely manner, you will be in a default situation where your defenses may be all waived and it will be difficult for you to assert any valid defense that you may have to defend the case. And that includes the defense that you have not been properly served with process and the legal papers.

Therefore, if you have received any papers that you feel may be a lawsuit filed against you then you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. There are many alternatives to foreclosure, and often times it just takes proper planning to properly navigate against the potential pitfalls. And one of the best ways to plan is to consult with a foreclosure defense lawyer. Help is often available to those who seek it.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Many of the Problems Associated with the Handling of Foreclosures Comes to Light During Recent Congressional Hearings Investigating Foreclosures

foreclosure_sign_home_18.jpgA recent House Subcommittee hearing brought together bankers and housing regulators to discuss the ongoing foreclosure crises. The one consensus that was reached was that the system needs to be corrected and fixed.

One of the main obstacles that many banks claim they encounter during both the foreclosure and loan modification process are investors who require that the foreclosures keep moving forward even though borrowers are trying to get a modified mortgage to lower their mortgage payments. Another problem involves what to do with the second loans because the holders of both the first and second loans must agree to the modification. Therefore, homeowners may not get payments lowered as dramatically if they have a second mortgage, and that could lead to re-defaults.

Another source of harsh rebuke was the Home Affordable Mortgage Program (HAMP). The results of the HAMP program to date reveals that it is not meeting its objective of preventing foreclosures. Indeed, the Federal Reserve predicts that there will be approximately 2.25 million foreclosure filings in 2011 and about 2 million more in 2012. Florida would again be among the nation’s leaders in the number of foreclosure filings, with South Florida leading way in the Sunshine state.

The current real estate market, and ongoing foreclosure crises, presents all sorts of issues that must be properly navigated. Our Miami foreclosure defense lawyers have assisted many parties in buying enough time to reach the solution that is right for them.

There are many alternatives to foreclosure, and often times it just takes proper planning to properly navigate against the potential pitfalls. Help is often available to those who seek it.

There are many factors contributing to Florida’s nation leading delinquency rates. They include a weak job market, weak economic recovery, and a major drop in home prices. Consequently, Florida’s real estate market remains unsettled in large part due to the continued foreclosure crises.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Lawlessness Running Rampant in Florida’s Court-run Foreclosure Process

3367993034_db20f606d7_z.jpg“Robo-signing” has become a popular term in the ongoing foreclosure crises, especially in light of the investigation launched by Florida’s Attorney General is undertaking at many of the State’s foreclosure mills. Often, documents at these firms were being notarized with missing signatures and with the wrong dates.

Plenty of mortgage assignments have surfaced which indicate that these documents have been fraudulently notarized. A mortgage assignment is a document which helps prove a lender has the right to repossess a property. This documentation is of the utmost importance because many mortgages were securitized, sold, and transferred many times over before the recent mortgage crisis. Without this document, a lender will have to spend more money and time proving that it is the legitimate owner of a mortgage.

If you feel as though you have been victimized by fraud, don’t despair. Our lawyers will carefully evaluate the facts and legal issues in your case. If we believe that you are a fraud victim, we will aggressively represent you in your case while fighting for your rights and seeking justice in the legal system. If you are a victim of fraud, we will use our legal experience to stand up for your rights. We want to help you keep your home.

One of the foreclosure mills which is currently being investigated is the Law Offices of David J. Stern, P.A. Stern claims that the errors in these documents are isolated incidents and simply mistakes.

The Herald-Tribune, however, took a look at some of these documents which are public record in Sarasota and Manatee Counties. Their investigation seems to indicate that these alleged errors were purposeful and conducted in a systematic fashion.

Here is some of what they have found:

(1) At least 60 homeowners have lost property based on improper mortgage assignments;
(2) 1 in 10 mortgage assignments filed by Stern’s office in Sarasota County have mistakes that violate state law, and
(3) 1 in 3 have either legal violations or other irregularities which call into question their authenticity.

Despite these widespread examples of fraudulent documents, Courts have been slow to stop or reverse foreclosures based on questionable documents. Although this is mostly attributed to the fact that judges must maintain neutrality and allow borrowers to defend themselves, some judges have taken a stand. For instance, two judges out of Marion and Pasco Counties have dismissed cases where Stern’s firm misdated mortgage assignments. One of the judges called the filing a “fraud intentionally perpetrated upon the court” and said the lender could never try to foreclose on the homeowner again.

Unfortunately, we may be dealing with these fraudulent documents for years to come. A healthy real estate market depends on the legal transfer of property. Accordingly, there could be many title issues and someone who bought a home from a bank that used questionable paperwork might have trouble selling the property. Some experts “expect a flood of legal challenges based on inaccurate documents.” This could lead to previous homeowners suing to get their homes back.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us today toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Wells Fargo Foreclosures Move Forward Despite Damaging Testimony by Their “Robo Signers”

Recently, lenders such as Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and Co., and GMAC have halted foreclosures after they discovered their employees were signing affidavits without verifying any information.
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As we have all ready discussed on this blog, many employees were signing hundreds of affidavits a day without verifying any information whatsoever. This practice has become known as “robo signing.”

Consequently, “robo signing” has called into question countless foreclosure proceedings in Miami, and across the country. Luckily, some banks are exercising due caution and suspending foreclosures in order to verify already signed affidavits. However, Wells Fargo is not one of these banks. At least not yet.

A Wells Fargo employee testified in a deposition in March that she signed about 300 to 500 foreclosure documents per day and would only verify her name and title. Wells Fargo will not stop foreclosures and says that it has not discovered any problems with the legal documents that have already been processed despite this testimony.

Although they claim their foreclosure affidavits are accurate, this is the second Wells Fargo employee to admit to improperly signing affidavits. In May, an employee admitted that he verified only the dates on up to 150 documents per day and relied on co-workers to ensure the accuracy of the rest of the information.

The recent disconcerting news about unverified bank documents is certainly a call for homeowners to contest foreclosures, even those which have already been completed. JP Morgan has set aside $1.3 billion in the third quarter to cover legal expenses, including foreclosures. JP Morgan initially halted foreclosures in 23 states, but is now extending their review to 41 states. As a result, JP Morgan Chase will have 115,000 cases under review.

Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

MERS: Do They Really Have the Paperwork to Prove Who Owns Your Mortgage?

Golden_file_cabinet.pngOne of the most commonly asked questions for a homeowner is who owns my mortgage? That question is often answered by solving a riddle within riddle. And sometimes the answer still makes no sense. The reason that question is often difficult to answer is because of a electronic filing system, i.e. MERS, employed by the mortgage industry for the past 15 years that has come under rapid fire recently by many foreclosure defense attorneys.

MERS serves as the mortgagee of record for lenders, investors and their loan servicers in the county land records. MERS claims its process eliminates the need to file assignments in the county land records which, in turn, lowers costs for lenders and consumers by reducing county recording revenues from real estate transfers and, in theory, provides a central source of information and tracking for mortgage loans.

When banks sell mortgages to each other and eventually package them into investment securities they use MERS as an electronic repository to keep track of the owners. MERS claims it has 64-million loans in its database; most likely your mortgage is one of them.

If a bank wants to foreclose it simply turns to MERS for the necessary documentation. Doing so is often much faster and cheaper than retrieving local title records.

But the MERS papers sometimes don’t reflect the true status of the mortgage.

While MERS’ origins were well intended, the subprime mortgage crises has highlighted the system’s shortcomings. Indeed, MERS is often at the center of legal challenges disputing the company’s right to initiate foreclosures.

It turns out that the electronic filing system, i.e. MERS, that the mortgage industry devised to facilitate the selling of mortgages from one financial party to another results in documentation that is often faulty and therefore not legally binding.

And that is why it is often difficult to answer the homeowner’s basic question of who owns their mortgage, and making it that much more difficult for MERS to foreclose on the property that it cannot demonstrate who actually owns it.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

The Ongoing Mortgage Meltdown Presents Unique Opportunities for Foreclosure Defense Attorneys in Miami to Assist Distressed Homeowners to Fight to Save Their Home

house-of-cards-falling-down.jpgRevelations of continuous fraud by the banks, and their law firms, have resulted in the launching of numerous investigations, and calls for a foreclosure moratorium. Indeed, many banks, including some of the nation’s largest, like Bank of America, have temporarily halted foreclosures in Florida.

Struggling homeowners should contact our office to meet with one of our Miami foreclosure defense attorneys today. As the revelations of improper “robo signing” continues to increase, those who are in danger of losing their home to a foreclosure should examine the situation, with the aid of one of our attorneys, in greater detail. The problems the banks are presently experiencing as a result of the “robo signing” allegations arise in large part as a result of foreclosure defense attorneys bringing to light the systematic fraud routinely committed by the banks, their employees, and their law firms.

This foreclosure crises, and mess, only continues to deepen in South Florida. The New York Times reported that Old Republic National Title has decided that it will not issue title insurance to property foreclosed upon by GMAC. Meanwhile, Florida’s Attorney General continues to investigate three prominent South Florida law firms to determine if those firms engaged in unfair and deceptive actions in their handling of thousands of foreclosures.

The issue associated with Old Republic is particularly troublesome for many potential home buyers and the real estate market as a whole. After the bank gains repossession of a property in a foreclosure the defaulting borrower is often evicted from the home. After which the foreclosed home is put on the market and ultimately sold. These sales account for approximately 1/3 of all homes currently sold in South Florida.

However, when when foreclosures are done with faulty documentation, such as in instances where “robo signing” practices were employed, it could potentially leave the new owners of the house vulnerable to claims. Title insurance protects the buyer against defects, errors or omissions in the chain of title. Old Republic said in the memorandum that its agents were already reporting written cancellations of contracts involving both Chase and GMAC due to problems stemming from the wide spread practice of “robo signing.”

All of this is occurring at a time when the economic recovery is tenuous at best. In August, Miami Dade County’s unemployment rate jumped to 14.4% from 13.3% in July. And until unemployment, and the economy as a whole, recovers, the local real estate market will remain in a state of high uncertainty.
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EXTENDED BODY:
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Call us toll free at 1-866-518-2913 or at 305-263-7700.

Miami Foreclosures Are Put On Hold Due To Admitted File Mishandling By Many Major Banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and GMAC

aa.jpgIn the past week, Bank of America, JP Morgan, and GMAC have all announced that they were suspending tens of thousands of foreclosures across the country due to apparent improper handling of documents. This could be the start of a new wave of problems for the banks here in Florida.

These colossal blunders by the banks illustrates the need to have an experienced Miami foreclosure defense lawyer on your side. The bank’s ongoing mishandling of these foreclosures files just further illustrates why having proper legal representation is so important.

Foreclosures have evolved into a massive industry for both the banks, and a few select group of law firms representing the banks. And that cozy relationship has resulted in Florida’s Attorney General launching an investigation on this industry due to an increasingly large volume of mistakes in many foreclosure cases. Indeed, just recently an individual’s home was foreclosed on despite the fact that his home did not have a mortgage, and in another instance a local South Florida Judge blasted the bank’s foreclosure lawyer for failing to follow appropriate procedure in a foreclosure case.

More than 3 million foreclosures are expected to take place this year across the country, with Florida leading the way. However, some estimate that at least 80% of all foreclosures have some type of documentation problem with the file, which may result in the need to have the foreclosure re-filed.

The reason behind the documentation problems stems from the heavy, and growing, load of foreclosures. Many banks, including Bank of America, JP Morgan, and GMAC, employed people who processed the paperwork as quickly as possible in order to comply with many local rules and procedure. This practice has become known as “robo signing.” However, this practice is improper, and many banks have halted the march towards foreclosures because of the fact that “robo signing” is improper.
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Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.

Foreclosure Twilight Zone: Bank Improperly Forecloses on South Florida Home

Onis_Not_For_Sale_sign.jpgOne would think that a bank could only foreclose on a home if it owns a mortgage on the property. Well, Jason Grodensky entered the Twilight Zone of the housing crisis when Bank of America foreclosed a home he outright owned without a mortgage.

Grodensky and his father purchased the house for cash as an investment property. They purchased the home through a negotiated short sale. Regardless, a court-ordered foreclosure sale took place and the home was purchased by Fannie Mae, a government-backed lender.

Let’s construct a bit of a timeline: Countrywide Home Loans filed a foreclosure case on this property in 2008. When Bank of America took control of Countrywide, the mortgage and note were transferred to them. Then in December of 2009, Grodensky purchased the home. One would think that this would end the foreclosure process. But, that was far from the truth.

Thereafter, a motion to dismiss the case was filed in July. The very next day a motion was filed to re-open it and the home was sold in a court-ordered foreclosure sale on July 15. Although Bank of America stated it will foot the bill to resolve the problem, Mr. Grodensky’s case brings to light the myriad of problems affecting borrower during these difficult times.

How could this happen? Let’s start with the foreclosure courts. Many cases are simply being herded like cattle through the system so the cases can be quickly disposed of. In this environment, mistakes are inevitable. Luckily, Judge Victor Tobin, charged with running Broward’s County Court foreclosure system says this is the only time he’s heard of this happening.

Next, lenders’ lawyers are obviously not doing their jobs in a thorough manner if a home can be illegally foreclosed upon. Here, the Florida Default Law Group represented the lender. Currently, this law firm is under investigation by the Florida Attorney General’s Office for allegedly submitting false or misleading documents to court. Perhaps there may be some truth to these allegations, or it could be a function of the fact that firms such as this are handling thousands and thousands of cases all at the same time. For example, a Chase Home Finance executive recently stated under oath that her and a team of eight supervisors sign about 18,000 documents a month. One can only imagine what their lawyers are facing.
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EXTENDED BODY:
Consider Your Options. Contact Us Today.

We have been successful in defending many foreclosure cases when given an opportunity to develop a plan to properly defend the foreclosure.

If you are on the brink of foreclosure, need a real estate attorney, or just need to assess your legal rights, please contact our office today.