South Florida real estate and foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim has been keeping his ear to the ground as the real estate market begins to heat up. In a recent article in U.S.A Today, Oppenheim was quoted as saying that lenders are pushing through foreclosures now because the values are up. Meantime, investors have been fueling the recovery, driving prices higher.
In his most recent “From the Trenches” video, Oppenheim talks about the fact that it’s become a seller’s market. When it comes to short sales, Oppenheim says it’s not unusual to see multiple offers. This is having a trickle down effect on the rest of the economy. Construction is starting to heat up, movers benefit as do realtors, mortgage brokers, real estate attorneys and title companies.
Last week, the U.S. Commerce Department reported applications for new construction rose to a five-year high. Building permits shot up 14 percent, the highest since June 2008. That indicates not only is the economy starting to simmer, but that more potential home buyers are dipping their toes into the real estate market.
However, we are not out of the woods yet, according to Roy, since so-called “rocket dockets” continue to plague those already in foreclosure.
Find out more of what Oppenheim has to say about the housing recovery by watching his video.
Real estate and foreclosure defense attorney, Roy Oppenheim left Wall Street for Main Street, founding Oppenheim Law along with his wife Ellen in 1989 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. He also is vice president of Weston Title and creator of the South Florida Law Blog, named the best business and technology blog by the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Follow Roy on Twitter at @OpLaw or like Oppenheim Law on Facebook
The first wave of checks to 4.2 million borrowers, including hundreds of thousands in Florida, will go into the mail Friday, according to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
Tuesday’s announcement was the first time bank regulators released information on how the money, which is part of an agreement replacing the failed Independent Foreclosure Review, will be doled out. Everyone who was in foreclosure during 2009 or 2010 with loans serviced by 13 lenders named in the settlement is eligible for payments ranging from $300 to $125,000.
About 2.3 million borrowers will receive the minimum $300, but checks vary depending on borrower experience. For example, borrowers who had a home repossessed after successfully completing a trial loan modification could get $50,000.
The 1,135 borrowers receiving the maximum amount were mostly homeowners who went through foreclosure even though they were protected by the 2003 Service members Civil Relief Act. About 50 borrowers will get $125,000 each for losing their homes when their loan was not in default.
Critics of the program say the amounts were awarded haphazardly. In many cases, homeowners who applied through the original Independent Foreclosure Review received double the amount of money as people in the same situation who didn’t apply.
Also, up to $500 is being awarded to homeowners in a category called “modification request approved.“This is a completely nonsensical process,” said South Florida foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim. “It’s like winning the lottery.”
Nearly 40% of homeowners who took out a second mortgage are underwater on their loans, but the news surrounding second mortgages isn’t all doom and gloom for Floridians, says Florida foreclosure defense attorney Roy Oppenheim.
Second mortgages refer to any loan taken out on a property that is subordinate to the first mortgage, and include home-equity loans or lines of credit.
According to data from CoreLogic and The New York Times, homeowners with a second mortgage are two times more likely to be underwater on their property. CoreLogic’s data also shows that homeowners with second mortgages are facing deeper levels of negative equity in their homes – $83,000 compared with $52,000 – than borrowers without second mortgages.
The bright side is that Oppenheim Law is seeing massive principal reduction on second mortgages through loan modifications, according to Oppenheim. It’s becoming common for the Florida foreclosure defense law firm to negotiate up to 80% in principal reductions of second mortgages, a far greater percentage than first mortgages.
A vast majority of first mortgages were cut up, bundled and sold to investors as mortgage backed securities, the process that played such an enormous role in the Florida real estate crisis. On the other hand, nearly three-quarters of second mortgages are still held by the banks that made the original loans.
The good news for Florida homeowners is that these banks are beginning to treat second mortgages similarly to consumer credit card debt, accepting minimal “pay offs” to settle up with homeowners.
Homeowners who are willing to negotiate a “short payoff” can have tremendous success reducing their second mortgage principal by 50% to 80% and then paying off the remaining balance in cash. Banks are even starting to solicit Florida homeowners with second mortgages to make initial offers for 40% to 50% reductions, which Oppenheim Law is then able to negotiate to as much as 80%.