While New Yorkers attempt a peaceful protest aimed at the big banks, NYPD officers bully, choke and drag those attempting to rally at the Occupy Wall Street demonstration.
The whirlwind of mortgage debt continues to spin above the heads of many homeowners and the federal government needs to aggressively step in. A recent New York Times lead editorial highlights just that. As the clouds begin to disappear the link between the housing market and the economy becomes clear; the economy cannot get better until the housing crisis is resolved.
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When AP’s White House, government and politics reporter Nancy Benac called Roy Oppenheim for his opinion; the foreclosure defense attorney talked about the thousand pound gorilla AKA the housing market.
Everyone is talking about jobs in Washington. Though getting Americans back to work should be a top concern, it’s what’s not being talked about that could hurt Obama this election season.
An article in the Huffington Post, Forbes, and syndicated via the Associate Press, highlights the reality that the housing market is still in a state of turmoil. But the bad news for Obama is five states with some of the highest home foreclosure numbers are the swing states he needs to win if he hopes to serve a second term.
Michigan, Ohio, Nevada, Arizona, and Florida account for 80 electoral votes and the home foreclosure issue is one that is constantly on the minds of voters in these states. Almost 11 million homeowners are underwater on their mortgages and these five states sit at the top of a very short list. According to CoreLogic, 45% of people in Florida are upside down. Nevada had the highest percentage at 60%. Arizona and Michigan fell in at 49% and 36% respectively.
“[It’s] the thousand-pound gorilla in the room,” says Roy Oppenheim, a Florida foreclosure defense attorney who speaks of “suburban blight” in his home state, of gutted homes, of entire neighborhoods where banks are bulldozing foreclosures.
Obama set high expectations for turning things around, Oppenheim says, and hasn’t been able to deliver, leaving people disillusioned.
“At some point, you don’t judge people by how well they speak, you judge them by their actions,” says the attorney, who backed Obama in the 2008 presidential race. “I continue, I guess, to support him, but I do it very reluctantly.”
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Florida homeowners scored a huge win last week when a Florida Appellate Court ruled that banks could no longer continue to break the rules in almost every foreclosure action. Following advice I gave in my letter to the editor of the Florida Bar Journal months ago, the Fourth District Court finally recognized that affidavits being submitted as “evidence” by banks were inadmissible hearsay that judges had been admitting against homeowners for years.
Friend and fellow , Thomas Ice, took his argument to the Fourth District on behalf of two homeowners. In their case, the bank employee who signed the affidavit against them admitted in his deposition that his only knowledge of the amount due to the bank was based on the bank’s computer system, and more incredibly, the computer system of another bank who had been the previous servicer of the loan. The Court noted in its opinion that the affidavit used by the bank “constituted inadmissible hearsay, and as such, could not support [the bank’s] motion for summary judgment.” And hearsay is exactly that: not actual firsthand knowledge of evidence. Ironically, such affidavits would have been laughed out of any court in the county except for new “lore” instead of “law” that has been taking shape in foreclosure courts in Florida and elsewhere.
In order to bring a motion for summary judgment, a bank must show that there is no “issue of material fact and the movement is entitled to judgment as a matter.” If the bank cannot establish down to the penny how much is owed on the loan, then by default there is a question of material fact and the bank would have to go to trial and prove the amount that is due, putting on witnesses from their own bank as well as from any other servicer of the loan who collected and applied payments before them.