Foreclosures, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Chief Justice Charles Canady addresses the issue of public access to Florida foreclosure proceedings- which has been in jeopardy as a result of the heavy volume of foreclosure cases

In a recent memorandum sent to chief judges of Florida’s twenty judicial circuits, Chief Justice Charles Canady addressed the important issue of public access to Florida’s foreclosure proceedings. The memorandum set forth that the chief judges ensure that the judges they supervise and the staff who report to those judges, as well as bailiffs and employees of the clerks of court, are not violating the rights of Floridians by improperly closing judicial proceedings to the public.
This comes after a letter was received from the Florida Press Association and other organizations. The letter alleged that in some instances, members of the public and/or press either were advised that they could not attend mortgage foreclosure proceedings or were prevented from attending such proceedings. Under Florida law, the public has a right to observe the workings of the judicial system. The reports, which have documented these incidents around the State of Florida, addressed the barriers, which have left members of the public and press subject to the discretion of individual foreclosure judges to admit or exclude them from attending the judicial proceedings.
The heavy volume of foreclosure cases has led to difficulties finding judges and courtrooms to hear the cases. As a result, some cases are being held in chambers for lack of an available traditional courtroom. Bottom line is- the proceedings must be open, even if they are held temporarily in a smaller and less formal physical setting than usual. While ordinary and uniform security procedures are still necessary, the unavailability of a traditional courtroom cannot justify a deprivation of the rights established under Florida law and the U.S. Constitution. 
If you have any questions on this topic please feel free to contact bankruptcy and foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures, Timothy Kingcade Posts

Foreclosure Filings Fall Sharply as Lenders Continue to Sort through Faulty Foreclosure Documents

A recent article in the Miami Herald revealed the number of bank repossessions in South Florida fell sharply this past month according to a study conducted by real estate research firm, RealtyTrac.
With just under 20,000 foreclosures across South Florida, the region had the seventh highest foreclosure rate in the nation. One out of every 122 homes in South Florida was in some stage of foreclosure in October, the report found. After increasing steadily for months, bank repossessions fell 19.7 percent in Miami-Dade County in October compared to the previous month, dropping to 1,740. Monroe County had 98 foreclosures in October, down 38 percent for the month and down 47 percent from last October.
To read more on the story, please visit:
http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/11/11/1919784/foreclosures-dip-as-lenders-freeze.html#ixzz15OEZlVrH
If you have any questions on the topic of foreclosure, please feel free to contact foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures, Timothy Kingcade Posts

GOVERNMENT MORTGAGE MODIFICATIONS MAY NOT BE EVERYTHING THEY SEEM

To financially distressed homeowners, the federal government’s Home Affordable Modification Plan – HAMP – can sound like a dream come true. The promise of a significantly reduced mortgage, accompanied by considerably lower monthly mortgage payments, raises homeowner hopes. However, recent reports show the program delivering on its promise for only a third of participating homeowners.
An analysis from Amherst Securities reveals HAMP’s success rate: just 32 percent of trial mortgage modifications begun will be converted to permanent modifications without defaults.
In other words, two-thirds of homeowners who enter the program either don’t get a permanent modification or they default on their modified loan.
Problems With the Program:
The Financial Times reports that one problem with HAMP is that it doesn’t reduce debt-to-income (DTI) ratios enough. Of the permanent HAMP modifications, the borrower’s DTI (including factors such as mortgages, credit card payments, taxes, insurance, car loans, etc.) dropped from 80 percent to 65 percent. Generally, anything above a 50 percent DTI level is considered unsustainable. (The government requires anyone applying for HAMP with a DTI at 55 percent or above to get credit counseling.)
Another HAMP problem: the principal reduction portion of the plan is voluntary and few lenders are willing to voluntarily reduce principals on houses. The Financial Times speculates that unless this portion of the program is at some point made mandatory – at least for especially distressed homeowners and mortgages – it appears unlikely to do much to stave off a second dip in the housing market and perhaps a second recession as well.
Mortgage Modification can Hurt Credit
The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that mortgage modifications link to the complex credit reporting system, causing long-term financial damage to homeowners. The credit code used when the three-month HAMP trial modification begins signifies to the credit industry that a borrower is making reduced payments, even if the homeowner isn’t delinquent when beginning the HAMP process.
Many financial professionals tell clients that bankruptcy can be a safer route to fiscal stability than a mortgage modification; The Wall Street Journal points out that some consumers will even see a rise in their credit scores after declaring bankruptcy.
Protecting Assets in Bankruptcy
Consumers saddled with large credit card debts or medical debt often find that Chapter 7 bankruptcy or Chapter 13 bankruptcy provides a way out from under the debt. Florida bankruptcy law provides exemptions for a number of assets, enabling many borrowers deeply in debt to protect the following:
Their home
401k savings
Pension plans
Social Security benefits
Workers’ compensation
Supplemental Security Income
Prepaid school tuition
To learn more about whether a mortgage modification is right for you or if bankruptcy might be the better solution, contact a Miami bankruptcy attorney for an assessment of your bankruptcy eligibility.

Foreclosures

Renters Threatened as a Result of the Foreclosure Crisis

Not even renters are safe when it comes to the recent foreclosure crisis. At the start of the recession, reports of tenants being blindsided by foreclosure notices were not unusual. The problem prompted President Obama to sign the federal “Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act” in 2009, which requires tenants receive a 90-day notice if they are being evicted due to foreclosure, and that most existing leases for renters be honored up to the end of their term.
However, experts say even with this law in place, “Individual landlords- people who own one, two, or three properties is where there lies more risk for renters.” This problem is made even worse when foreclosure is coupled with Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection for the landlord. This gives a property owner pretty much a get-out-of-jail-free card, which can impact a tenant’s lease term and agreement. The “shadow market” which are houses, which would be on the market if their owners felt they could sell the properties, leave some renters wondering if they’ll ever get back their security deposits, advanced rent payments and other out-of-pocket expenses.
To read more on this story, please visit:
http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/real-estate/foreclosures-renters-threatened/19686724/
If you have any questions on this topic, please feel free to contact foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures

Improper Documentation for Foreclosure Proceedings

As a consequence of the fallout that marked the frenzy of the subprime mortgage era, banks and mortgage servicers are finding themselves accused of fraud in trying to foreclose on properties while using falsified documentation. In a number of cases in Florida and other states where the foreclosure process must proceed through the courts, they are being charged with presenting forged documents of assignment.
Millions of loans were processed very quickly during the heyday of interest-only and other questionable loan practices, and some mortgages were sold hundreds or even thousands of times with incomplete information or documentation so that it became impossible to determine when or to whom the mortgage was sold.
Consequently, mortgage servicers have been trying to recreate loan documents by supplying phony stamps used by financial companies to simulate proof of assignments and by randomly changing the identity of a mortgage holder when it could not verify its ownership.
When consumers in Florida, Maryland and other states began challenging the foreclosures in court, the forgeries were uncovered. Banks have been undoubtedly under pressure to provide evidence of ownership of these loans in which incomplete documents were filed.
Many lenders and banks used a service from Docx, the nation’s largest lien release processor and a subsidiary of Lender Processing Services, to provide document and assignment services for banks and mortgage lenders. With no evidence of ownership or assignment of many of these loans, Docx is accused of scrambling to fabricate documents of assignment to satisfy the requirements for foreclosure in court. The company is presently under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors.
In February 2010, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that a lender now has to verify that it had all the proper documents before a foreclosure can proceed. Failure to do so can subject the lender or bank to charges of perjury. In a number of cases, judges have invalidated the foreclosures and returned the properties to the borrowers. In other cases, judges are holding hearings to determine if the lenders have attempted to perpetrate a fraud on the court by presenting fabricated documents.
Under fire, a number of large lenders, such as JP Chase Morgan, Bank of America and GMAC, recently suspended foreclosure proceedings in certain states, pending review of their files to find potential errors. Proceedings were only halted in certain states because not every jurisdiction has a law requiring that foreclosure proceedings to go through court; foreclosures continue to be processed in the states without judicial foreclosure laws.
Because the use of fraudulent documents of assignment is on the rise, it is important to talk to an experienced bankruptcy attorney if you are served foreclosure papers. Even if your mortgage documents are not falsified, you may still have options to save your home.

Foreclosures

Banks and other Financial Firms under Federal Investigation for using Fraudulent Court Documents to Foreclose on People’s Homes

A recent story in the Washington Post reports that a federal investigation is underway to determine whether banks and other financial firms broke U.S. law when using fraudulent court documents to foreclose on people’s homes. The criminal investigation is focused on whether companies misled federal housing agencies, and whether the firms committed wire or mail fraud in filing false paperwork.
The Obama administration is seeking to send the message that it will hold banks accountable for illegal foreclosures. The investigation will likely be a lengthy one and target banks, independent mortgage servicers, law firms and other companies involved in the foreclosure process.
Beyond the investigation, federal agencies could take regulatory steps to address misdeeds. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Ginnie Mae, which packages and sells FHA-backed mortgages, could require banks to change their practices and impose financial penalties if firms choose to violate the rules.
Some major banks (i.e. – Bank of America) are preparing to submit new paperwork and resume the process of seizing homes in Florida and other states which require a judge’s approval.
To read more on this story, please visit:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2010/10/19/AR2010101904845.html?hpid=topnews
If you have any questions on this topic feel free to contact foreclosure defense attorney, Timothy Kingcade at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures

Beware of Foreclosure Scams

With the recent controversy and media scrutiny surrounding several banks that have confessed to submitting thousands of falsely sworn documents to courts as part of their efforts to foreclose on people’s homes, it’s no surprise that scam artists are trying to capitalize on the situation, marketing their services to delinquent borrowers. Homeowners should know that even though these documents amount to committing fraud upon the court, this likely will not save their homes. The homeowner still owes money, and eventually the paperwork will get sorted out.
A scam that is already gaining popularity amongst delinquent borrowers is the “forensic mortgage loan audit scam.” In this scam, auditors and the attorneys who back them demand at least several hundred dollars up front, and then comb through the mortgage documents looking for any violations of state or federal fair lending law. If any are found, these individuals say, the homeowner can sue and – and here’s where the fraud kicks in – through the suit, cancel the foreclosure, speed the loan modification, reduce the loan principal or even cancel the loan.
The worst foreclosure scams are those in which the homeowner loses their house to the scammer, becoming a tenant in their own home. This is referred to as the “bailout,” “equity stripping,” or “rent to own.” Two other common types are “phantom help” and “bait and switch” scams. “Phantom help” promises help that never comes. “Bait and switch” involves telling people the documents they’re signing say one thing, when they really say another.
The best advice I can give is to carefully read what you are signing, particularly what’s noted in the fine print, and speak to an expert in the field if you are facing foreclosure. If you are a homeowner in trouble, particularly if you live in one of the high foreclosure states like Florida, you will be approached by these scammers. In South Florida within a few short days of a foreclosure filing, it is typical for a homeowner to receive 20 to 40 solicitation letters, of which 10-15 will be from scammers. Additionally, the homeowner will receive a dozen or more phone calls from scammers offering these fraudulent services, even visits to their front door! The Department of Housing and Urban Development has a prescreened list of agencies that can help, and unlike scammers, they will not ask for a cashier’s check or a wire transfer.
To read more on this story and learn more about the latest foreclosure scams, please visit:
http://www.dailyfinance.com/story/real-estate/new-foreclosure-scams/19661013/
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 this topic please feel free to contact me at (305) 285-9100. You can also find useful consumer information on the Kingcade & Garcia, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures

Florida Legislature’s Proposed Answer to the Foreclosure Crisis

A recent article in the New York Times reported on the Florida Legislature’s new effort to cut the number of foreclosures throughout the State of Florida. Earlier this year, Florida provided $9.6 million in funding to set up “foreclosure-only” courts across the state. These courts would be staffed by retired judges to accommodate the record-setting number of foreclosures in Florida. The goal of the program, which began in July, is to reduce Florida foreclosures by 62 percent within a year.
However, this new program has come under much scrutiny. Lawyers representing troubled borrowers contend that many of the retired judges called in to oversee these foreclosure cases are so focused on cutting the caseload that they are unfairly favoring financial institutions at the expense of homeowners.
In the article, Chief Judge Victor Tobin in the 17th Judicial Circuit defends the new plan, saying that “There are more assets devoted to those three foreclosure divisions in Broward County than to any other division in the building in terms of case managers and that sort of thing to help the general public. The people who come in get fully, fully heard.”
Florida’s foreclosure mess is made even more complicated by what analysts and lawyers involved in the process say are “questionable practices” by some law firms that are representing banks. Such tactics, these people say, have drawn out the process significantly, making it extremely lucrative for the lawyers and more draining for troubled homeowners. Even a few South Florida law firms have come under such scrutiny regarding their questionable practices when handling the influx of foreclosure cases. Labeled as “foreclosure mills” in the article, often times these firms refuse to work with borrowers and are very aggressive about pushing cases through the courts, even when there are questions about the documentation.
Nevertheless, Florida law requires that before a financial institution can foreclose on a borrower, it must prove to the court that it actually has the standing to do so. Florida law also requires that banks argue their cases before a judge if they want to recover property from borrowers in default, and 471,000 such cases were pending in Florida at the end of July, according to the Florida State Courts administration.
The Florida Supreme Court has recognized the need to hire retired judges on a “temporary” basis and has ruled this as constitutional. However, with these “repeated and consecutive” foreclosures, these may not always qualify as “temporary” and could eventually be in violation of the Florida constitution.
To read more on this story, visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/05/business/05house.html?pagewanted=1&_r=3
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, P.A. website at www.miamibankruptcy.com.

Foreclosures

Florida Supreme Court Enacts New Law to Clean-up Foreclosure Filings, But many Attorneys continue to ignore it

foreclosure
In an attempt to clean up careless legal mistakes and incomplete documentation submitted by attorneys in foreclosure cases, the Florida Supreme Court recently enacted a new law that requires the attorney or bank filing a foreclosure to verify that the allegations and paperwork are accurate when a residential property is at stake. A majority of the paperwork filed up to this point has been submitted incomplete or with careless mistakes made, resulting in time and resources being wasted by the courts.
This issue is of particular importance in South Florida, where it seems many homeowners can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to foreclosures. According to recent numbers from RealtyTrac, foreclosures in South Florida have grown 71 percent in the first quarter compared to the same time frame in 2009. These continuing problems with the foreclosure process could affect the speed at which the housing market recovers, slowing the process of reselling properties and stabilizing the market.
However, a stand still has occurred recently in these cases. The attorneys of large foreclosure firms are choosing to ignore the ruling, claiming the decision from the Supreme Court states “not final,” while Florida judges and defense attorneys fight for the section of the decision that states “shall become effective immediately upon the release of this opinion”. Well, that opinion was released back in February.
The bottom line for South Florida homeowners, who are in the middle of this, is when a foreclosure is filed: Do NOT just hand over your property. Rather, make sure the bank or lender retaking your home has the proper paperwork to show for it. Finally, hire an experienced attorney. 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, P.A. Web site at www.miamibankruptcy.com.
To read more on this story go to:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20100601/ARTICLE/6011046/0/NEWS?p=4&tc=pg