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Florida Foreclosures Still Lead the Nation

Following the passage of legislation in Florida that allows lenders and judges to sail quickly through the foreclosure process, the number of filings in the state has soared, making us No. 1 in the nation for the percentage of homes in some stage of repossession.

Our Miami foreclosure lawyers know that while some state officials are spinning this as good news (Hey, we’re cutting through the backlog!) the reality isn’t quite so sunny.

According to RealtyTrac’s latest figures, Florida had the highest foreclosure rate in the nation, with one out of every 33 homes in some stage of the process (either new filings, scheduled auctions or repossessions). It was even worse for those in the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County region, where the rate was 1 out of every 25 homes.

In Broward all total, some 30,000 properties were in some phase of foreclosure, while Palm Beach reported about 21,500 homes.

There is no question that when the foreclosure crisis first hit back in 2006, Florida was battered. We had a large number of homeowners who had been given adjustable-rate mortgages to purchase their homes, but many fell behind on those payments once the interest shot up. Additionally, prices began to plummet, so people couldn’t sell their homes to get out from under them. Some homes lost half their value or more.

By the time 2013 rolled around, the state still had about 372,000 foreclosures with which to contend. As of November, that figure was down to about 263,000, according to the Florida Supreme Court.

Deeply underwater properties (or those in which the homeowner owed at least 25 percent more on the value of the property than it was worth) are at 61 percent in Florida. That’s only slightly less than the 65 percent of foreclosures in Nevada that are considered “deeply underwater.” Illinois reported 60 percent, Michigan 55 percent and Ohio 48 percent.

Back in July, Florida HB 87, the Florida Fair Foreclosure Act, took effect. This did enable the courts to more quickly process foreclosures, though it has in many ways been at the expense of the homeowners’ due process. Of particular concern was that this new fast-track process came on the heels of the so-called “robo-signing” scandal, in which it was revealed that banks were flying rapid-fire through foreclosure paperwork without properly reviewing it.

While the new measure requires mortgage lenders to have the correct paperwork, the only real assurance of that is a certification offered by the lenders themselves. The law also gave the green light to condominium associations to fast-track foreclosures when they believe banks are moving too slowly.

By forcing cases through the pipeline, the courts may not only be violating due process rights, but also thwarting diligent efforts to seek relief in the form of foreclosure alternatives, such as home loan modification or assistance through the various federal relief programs, such as the Florida Hardest-Hit Fund.

If you’re battling foreclosure in Miami or the surrounding areas contact Jacobs Legal for a confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (305) 358-7991. Also, don’t miss Miami Foreclosure Attorney Bruce Jacobs on 880AM/the Biz, every Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. on “Mortgage Wars,” discussing foreclosure topics that matter to YOU.

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