Zombie Foreclosures Continue to Haunt Florida

One in five homes in the foreclosure process are zombies, according to RealtyTrac which says that Florida leads the list with roughly 55,000 homes that are abandoned by their owners and in a state of legal limbo.  Despite economic recovery in much of the nation, the foreclosure issue is not going away any time soon.  What do zombies mean if you are looking to list your property?  Most likely if there is one on your street, you will not be able to sell your home.  If you do, you’ll get much less than you were hoping for due to the proximity of the zombie foreclosure.  Zombie foreclosures not only lower property values of surrounding homes, but they also lead to lost property tax revenue – a double whammy for anyone considering listing a real estate property. You can also get more information from attorneys for family law claims.

RealtyTrac’s most recent data on zombie foreclosures also reported that about 21 percent of the 141,406 total foreclosures reported in Q2 were of the zombie variety.  What makes a foreclosure a zombie?  This type of foreclosure occurs when a lender goes through all the steps of a foreclosure, but fails to complete the last step of registering the deed to move title from the borrower to the lender.  The owner then deserts the property leaving it abandoned which leads to an unkempt eyesore, making the surrounding properties less appealing. If you want to know how to stage your house for a fast sell, with the help of a real estate agent, click here.

One of the reasons that Florida is on the top of this list is because it is a judicial foreclosure state.  That means that in order to foreclose on a property a bank must go through the court process which takes a long time.   While new laws set out to protect borrowers and prevent servicers from reacting to foreclosures at the same rate they typically would, there are other ways service providers can provide assistance to borrowers while working directly with their business partners to prevent such a high vacancy rate.

Working with a qualified lawyer is the first step you should take if you are facing a foreclosure or currently involved in one.  A well informed homeowner can be counseled by a foreclosure attorney who can provide guidance in terms of what options are available to you and communicate with involved parties to find the best resolution and reduce the time period of the foreclosure sale right of redemption.  In some cases, this time period can be shortened from six months to as little as 30 days.

Servicers may also work directly with a lawyer who will contact the borrower.  For example, when a company has made an attempt to serve the borrower papers and finds the property to be vacant, they are often times legally required to search for the borrower.   This process will not eliminate zombie foreclosures, but does help expedite the foreclosure or proceed to workout.  By enlisting the help of an attorney from the start, you can be proactive and address the issue before vacancies increase and prevent zombie foreclosures from spreading.

If you find you are the victim of a zombie foreclosure, there may be a number of remedies available to you. Contact the Tampa foreclosure attorneys at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. today.

How Will 2012 Work Out For Banks And Homeowners?

2012 begins with much still unsettled in the banking world, and how it all shakes out will affect millions of borrowers. Some banks are still reeling from the aftershocks of the mortgage-lending crisis, and massive lawsuits are currently pending against numerous large financial institutions, some with potential penalties large enough to make the survival of some banks questionable.

Housing’s Effect on the Economy

Much of the lingering malaise dragging on the economy is related to the behavior of the banks. Lending money to future homeowners triggers builders to build, meaning they have to hire carpenters, plumbers, electricians like the Electrician in Frankston and all the other trades to construct the home.
The workers constructing the home have to buy materials, driving additional economic activity. The mortgage crisis and accompanying foreclosure disaster has virtually shut down new home construction and all of the construction jobs that go with it.

No Fault but Their Own

It is difficult to have much sympathy for the banks and other lenders, as the mortgage crisis was almost entirely of their own making. Shoddy lending practices, inadequate oversight and large profits led to the inevitable collapse of real estate prices, and with it, the economy.

Unfortunately, We Are All In This Together

Currently, the some of the doldrums the economy is suffering from can be tied to the refusal of lenders to recognize that billions of dollars of apparent real estate value contained within their mortgages was illusory, created by their market manipulation during the bubble.
Consequently, vast numbers of loans are hopelessly overvalued, and their borrowers underwater. All of these loans need to be modified, with the principle reset to the “real” value of the property.
The Federal Reserve reports that the value of real estate has fallen by $4.2 trillion since 2006, but banks have failed to recognize this correction on their balance sheets.
Lenders have been resistant, because it means individual banks (and their managers) would have to recognize large losses. It is to their advantage to hold off as long as possible and leave the risk of loss on the borrowers.
With multiple lawsuits from states’ Attorneys General pending, some of this might begin to happen this year.

According to the LA Times, the settlement would “include a component for ‘principal write-downs,’ the reduction of mortgage debt for individual homeowners.”
Struggling homeowners need the real estate market to begin recovering, and for that to happen lenders have to begin lending. None of this is likely to happen until the real estate values reflected in mortgages begin to reflect reality.

Source: “Will 2012 Be a Good Year for Homeowners or Banks?” Huffington Post, 1/20/12

Divorce and what to do with the Family Home

When going through a divorce, some couples find that it desirable for one spouse to keep the family home. In such case hire family lawyers to settle down this issue. After all, the kids are comfortable living there and staying would save the expenses and hassles of moving. For other couples, however, it is too much of a financial burden for one partner to keep the house.So it is better to ask about divorce mediation process in Maryland to avoid the risks.Fortunately, there are options and tips for both types of couples.

If One Spouse Wants to Keep the House

If one spouse would like to keep the home, the first thing to do is to make sure that he or she can afford it or can approach the divorce attorneys in Jonesboro to know more options available that helps them in clearing up their financial crisis. Some spouses may be able to get a loan based on their individual income and assets. If there is enough equity in the home, the spouse can use it as collateral for the loan to buy out the other spouse.
If the house still has a mortgage, spouses who decide to stay in the house should refinance the loan in his or her own name and take the other spouse’s name off the loan. This way, the spouse moving out is freed from the loan’s obligations.

If Neither Spouse Wants the House

Sometimes for financial or personal reasons, neither spouse wants to remain in the house. The best thing to do in this case is to sell the house. While waiting for the house to sell, it is important to keep up the mortgage payments to maintain good credit.

If one spouse alone cannot afford the mortgage payments, he or she can work out an arrangement in the marriage settlement where the other spouse will contribute to the payments and be reimbursed once the house sells.
Couples who are already in financial trouble and cannot keep up with the mortgage payments may consider a short sale to get the house off their hands. This is where a lender agrees to allow the house to sell for less than the value of the mortgage. Sometimes the lender may not hold the couple responsible for difference between the value at which the house ultimately sells and the remaining mortgage balance.

Experts recommend that couples do not simply walk away from the mortgage and allow a foreclosure of the home, as both spouses’ credit ratings would be ruined for the next seven years. In addition, the lender may still be able to sue both spouses for the remaining balance.

Filing for bankruptcy is as important as getting the right domestic violence lawyer for hire. Instead of walking away from the mortgage, filing for bankruptcy can be a better option. In many cases, this allows divorced couples to renegotiate the debt.

Source: “Need to Sell your House in Divorce?” Divorce360.com

Mortgage Prevention Program Will Help Homeowners

Mortgage Prevention Program Will Help Homeowners

Recently, a program developed by the Florida Housing Finance Corp. was approved for changes by the U.S. Treasury Department. These changes will significantly impact Florida residents struggling with their mortgages in these tough economic times. For more information on mortgages, view publisher site here. The program is titled the Hardest Hit Fund and helps unemployed or underemployed residents pay their mortgage on their home until they find jobs, avoiding foreclosure.
The program is going through several major changes, including:

  • Eliminating the cutoff date that restricted loans to those who took out a mortgage before 2009
  • Using a case-by-case analysis, instead of requiring that a person be no more than 180 days behind

These changes hold promise for the acceptance of many more into the program, even those previously turned down. Other requirements for the program include:

  • Florida residency
  • Being unemployed at no fault of one’s own
  • Using the home as the primary residency
  • Having a mortgage balance of less than $400,000

Qualifying will mean that a person in the program can receive a maximum of $24,000 over a period of 12 months or up to $25,000 to bring the balance up to date. The changes by the FHFC will take place later this month and are anticipated to help many families until they can get back on their feet.

These changes can seem a bit complex, and the law is sometimes difficult to sift through. Legal assistance is always available for someone trying to navigate new laws and changes.
Florida is in a state of change, and hopefully this change brings peace of mind to many of its residents.

Source: The Florida Current, “Housing agency expands eligibility for foreclosure prevention program”, Gray Rohrer, June 5, 2012

Emergencies can lead to out of control debt

Before the 2007 recession, the majority of Americans were not putting much thought into their emergency savings account. Without any “just in case” emergency funds, when people starting getting laid off and being forced to take pay-cuts, many no longer could afford their lifestyle. Some saw their homes go into foreclosure, while others had to deal with the constant calls from bill collectors.

Since then, while the economy has started to rebound and some are trying to save for emergencies, almost half of Americans still have more credit card debt than that saved in emergency funds. Bankrate.com conducted a survey by questioning 1,004 participants over the phone. This is the third year in a row the company has conducted this survey.

In 2011, 52 percent reported having more in savings than in credit card debt. The following year, in 2012, the overall percentage increased to 54 percent. In this most recent survey, 55 percent reported having more in savings than in credit card debt.

At first glance, this certainly seems encouraging. More and more are starting to save for emergencies. However, Greg McBride, who is a senior financial analyst with Bankrate.com, said that people are still not saving enough. Even with the better overall economic situation of the U.S., not enough attention is being given to saving for an emergency.

The issue is that, even though the economy has improved some, without money in savings, Florida residents will not be able to pay for emergencies. For example, if suddenly a homeowner comes down with a debilitating disease, there will be medical bills. However, since there is no extra money put aside to pay these bills, the homeowner will have to dip into the funds he uses for his other bills, like his credit card and mortgage. This in turn can lead into a vicious cycle where the homeowner owes money to multiple entities and just cannot keep up. In some cases, the threat of foreclosure can become very real.

In cases like this hypothetical one, or really any situations where debt is becoming overwhelming, instead of continuing to stress out, talk with an attorney who has experience handling debt relief cases.

Source: ABC News, “Nearly Half of Americans Have More Credit Card Debt Than Savings”, Susanna Kim, Feb. 25, 2013

Experts Predict the Number of Foreclosures to Rise in 2012

In 2011, the country saw a slowing of the foreclosure crisis that had engulfed the country in the previous years. Any hope that the crisis had reached the bottom and the housing market was finally on the road to recovery has been tempered by the expectations of many real estate experts.

Real estate company Zillow believes that the housing market hasn’t even hit bottom yet. The company believes foreclosures will rise in this year and that housing prices will not bottom out until 2013. Mark Seifert, executive director of the counseling group Empowering & Strengthening Ohio’s People, told Reuters that he expects 2012 to be a “bigger year for foreclosures than 2010.”

One of the reasons experts believe foreclosures will increase over 2011 is that many large banks put foreclosures on hold during the recent robo-signing scandal. Now that a settlement has been reached, it is expected that the banks will resume foreclosures.
Reuters notes that the mortgages foreclosed upon in 2012 will differ from those at the beginning of the housing crisis. Early on, many of the foreclosures involved subprime mortgages, but now most of these mortgages are no longer in the market. This means that the expected foreclosures will involve people with “ordinary mortgages” who have been impacted by the down economy.

Whether you are currently in foreclosure or behind on mortgage payments, losing your home does not need to be inevitable. People struggling to make ends meet may have several options for keeping their home such as negotiating with their mortgage company and other alternatives to bankruptcy or filing for Chapter 13 bankruptcy.
Every situation is unique and there is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution that works for everyone. By speaking with an experienced bankruptcy attorney you can learn what solution(s) work best for you and your family.

Source: Reuters.com, “Americans brace for next foreclosure wave”, Nick Carey, April 4, 2012