2013 The Year in Housing Foreclosures
- The idea that we would regularly beat the “too big to fail, too big to jail” banks in housing foreclosure trials was only a theoretical construct as the dam had yet been broken until this past year. In fact, it is no longer news when we win a trial for a homeowner. While it once was news like human bites dog, now it’s like dog bites human.
- The courts don’t seem to mind as much when we win a foreclosure trial for a homeowner as long as it means that the judge’s docket is cleared of one less case.
- The advent of the rocket trial docket has spread to all corners of the state placing remarkable pressure on all lawyers whether it’s bank counsel or a borrower’s attorney. That pressure has indeed caused bask to lose some cases.
- The bar fight we engaged in last summer over the Florida Bar’s involvement with HB 87 has changed the rules of foreclosure and may have perversely made it more difficult for the banks to foreclose in some cases. The jury is still out on that one. In about 6 months or by the end of 2014 we will know for sure.
- But we have already heard the banks whining that they want a “do-over” or a second bite at the apple in revising the foreclosures laws again in Florida. Bar fight 2.0? We are ready!
- The Stetson Law Review, has been repeatedly cited a dozen times in cases from California, New York and Texas. It is placing remarkable pressure on the banks and on the issue of whether or not securitized trusts have standing to proceed in foreclosure cases when they themselves admit they did not follow their own internal requirements of timely filing their assignments for mortgages. We expect this trend to continue and pick up pace just as other issues have this past year (legalization of marijuana and gay marriage).
- While the banks have publicly started to pay amends for the economic crisis by entering into various settlements with the government, it remains to be seen whether the IRS will step up to the plate and jump into the fray. A series of scathing scholarly articles will be coming out next year addressing this issue. The sums involved dwarf all settlements to date.
- As hedge funds and foreign investors continue to buy up excess real estate, inventory prices have continued to rise to the point that the number of underwater homeowners has declined substantially.
- The employment picture has improved by helping folks meet their mortgage obligations and thereby reducing the number of new defaults.
- With interest rates beginning to raise the refinance boomlet, it has fizzled quickly leaving mortgage companies in a position where they had to let people go just as they were getting back to business.
- Short sales have slowed as the real estate world is holding its breath to see if Congress will renew the tax benefits that helped propel the real estate market. If the Bush tax cuts are left, it will be RIP for short sales.
Stay tuned for my predictions for 2014.
Have a happy New Year!
From the trenches