The revival of the U.S. housing market has produced a sigh of relief for much of the economy, as home prices and construction have finally rebounded. However, for some homeowners the foreclosure crisis has never ended. The worst of the foreclosure crisis passed years ago, but it has continued to cast a shadow over homeowners in places like Maryland, where many old cases have yet to work their way through the system.
Last year, Florida’s foreclosure rate was the third-highest in the country, behind Nevada and Illinois, according to RealtyTrac. Nationally, it is estimated that 5.2 million foreclosures have been completed since 2007. But the vast majority happened in the early years of the recession, with 2013’s foreclosures making up just 9% of the U.S. total.
Maryland’s high foreclosure rate is actually linked to the state’s attempt to remedy the process for underwater homeowners. In 2010, the state passed a law requiring mediation if homeowners requested it, and some foreclosure cases from early in the housing crisis are now going through the program.
Consumer advocates believe that these reforms are an important preventative measure against abusive practices that abruptly forced people out of their homes. Mortgage servicers have continued to employ abusive practices, which plague underwater homeowners and prolong the pain.
The Moody family, for example, missed one payment in February 2009 after Paul Moody suffered a back injury and lost his job. Five years later, after dealing with three different mortgage servicers, two foreclosure attempts and more than a dozen different applications for loan modifications, there is still no resolution in site. Attempts to seek relief from state and federally backed programs have gotten the family nowhere.
The major rules for mortgage servicers only went into effect in January 2014, allowing many abuses to continue despite intense scrutiny and demands for reform at the height of the housing meltdown. For instance: servicers are now prohibited from “dual-tracking” homeowners by offering them a loan modification while moving forward with a foreclosure at the same time. Mortgage companies are now required to ensure their customer representatives can actually answer question and access relevant documents to eliminate red tape issues, mixed messages and unreturned phone calls.
The good news is, the Moody’s have been able to stay in their home while negotiating with their lenders. A quicker resolution could be far worse- at least from the homeowner’s perspective- Legislative attempts to fast-track foreclosures have denied homeowners their rights and took their properties away before they could save them.
The end is slowly coming into sight for others as well. Nationally, foreclosures have hit a six-year low. Though many Maryland homeowners are still underwater, the delinquency rate for loans that aren’t yet in foreclosure is dropping, falling from about 11% of all mortgages in 2009 to 8% by the end of 2013, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. Rising property values in the area means that fewer foreclosed houses remain vacant for long.
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Choosing the right attorney can make the difference between whether or not you can keep your home. A well-qualified Miami foreclosure defense attorney will not only help you keep your home, but they will be able to negotiate a loan that has payments you can afford. Miami foreclosure defense attorney Timothy Kingcade has helped many facing foreclosure alleviate their stress by letting them stay in their homes for at least another year, allowing them to re-organize their lives. If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.