Weren’t you surprised when you opened your mailbox? Most folks were stunned when they received their estimated real estate tax bill over the past few weeks. Like me, they justifiably expected that their property taxes would go down as their assessed values for their property decreased. However, this was not the case as the property taxes either stayed the same or even increased. According to the Sun Sentinel, towns and cities in Broward County (except Fort Lauderdale and Parkland) are playing a little “shell game” by increasing the millage rate (that means the tax percentage rate) to compensate for the drastic decrease in the value of real estate in South Florida. Because of these “shell games,” homeowner’s mortgage escrows will actually increase which will then cause more homes to go into foreclosure. Our local governments just don’t get it! Why can’t local governments do with less? Why can’t our elected officials tighten their belts as we all have had to do over the past few years? Most governments are bloated with excess fat that can always be trimmed. The bottom line is that increased millage rates will not solve the problem but will only make it worse. Until we elect our kids into office and bring in a new generation that was brought up in these times: NOTHING will change… plain and simple.
In the Trenches
Oppenheim Reviews Obama’s FHA Short Refinance Program and What it Means to Florida Homeowners
Fort Lauderdale, Florida – September 11, 2010 – First loan modifications, then short sales…now it’s the short refi. Officially known as FHA Short Refinance Program, it’s the latest band-aid in Obama’s bailout plans aimed at resuscitating Florida’s underwater homeowner facing foreclosure.
Introduced this week, the FHA Short Refinance Plan offers aid to people who owe more than their mortgage is worth. Will it bring life back to the real estate market and stimulate the economy? This is the question market analysts and legal bloggers like Florida Attorney Roy Oppenheim are debating.
One of the biggest dangers facing the housing market is the glut of underwater homeowners who could default if their financial situations or home prices worsen. About 11 million borrowers, or 23% of households with a mortgage, were underwater as of June 30, according to CoreLogic Inc. That number is expected to double next year.
“This is a much needed program, but just might be a case of too little, too late,” says Oppenheim who continues to help Florida homeowners navigate through the tides of the real estate market. “Servicers will not be highly motivated and sometimes inclined to steer towards foreclosure.” In addition the program, at best, is designed to help about four million homeowners according to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Website.
The FHA Short Refinance option is targeted to help people who owe more on their mortgage than their home is worth—also known as being ‘underwater’—because select local markets saw large declines in home values. Unlike the first two waves of bailouts, the short refinance program is aimed at homeowners who are NOT currently behind on their mortgages.
From the Heart by Ellen Pilelsky
Picture this. In Florida: Retired judges being pulled out of retirement and paid to sit on foreclosure courts. Purpose: To decrease the amount of Florida’s foreclosure backlog.
Reality? The outcome of many cases is questionable, at best. Seems many of these judges, who may be well intentioned, are actually ruling in favor of the banks despite legitimate issues, such as the financial institution’s ownership of the note and mortgage.
Conflict of Interest? Retired judges are actually being compensated in order to decrease the foreclosure docket. Some argue that since these select judges have a financial interest in decreasing these cases, a homeowner’s constitutional rights may in fact be at jeopardy.
In fact, this past weekend, the New York Times reported injustices done to homeowners facing foreclosure through Florida’s recently created “foreclosure courts.” Simply put, questions are being raised as to whether the retired judges are ignoring problematic or contradictory evidence, especially since some banks have not yet even proven that they own the properties in question.
What next? The Attorney General’s office is investigating foreclosure firms that have submitted questionable ownership documents.
The true question is how did we get to this point? How could foreclosure decisions be rendered by courts where the ownership of the very documents upon which the suits are fashioned are suspect? Where is the consideration of the homeowner’s rights?
Perhaps an appeal of those cases incorrectly decided should be under way. More importantly, perhaps justice should actually be served.
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