Florida is one of the leading states in the number of foreclosures filed. Although there has been a recent drop in the number of foreclosures filed, the rate is expected to increase.
Last year, it was revealed that huge numbers of foreclosures were being filed by banks and other lenders with documents that had been fraudulently signed or attested to, and that the banks were unable to prove or legitimately document a chain of title. After the robo-signing scandal became big news, the courts began looking at filed foreclosures with a skeptical eye. Robo-signing is a practice of one person signing mass volumes of documents without reading them or checking their validity.
A temporary moratorium was called on foreclosures while investigators in all 50 states scrutinized the foreclosure practices of lenders and servicers. Foreclosures in Florida slowed for a few months, but are beginning to accelerate again.
Florida judges, though, remain unconvinced. Recently, a Miami-Dade judge chastised a large foreclosure law firm for its “shoddy” work in one case and overall incompetence. The judge in the case awarded the home back to the homeowner and forbade the firm or the lender from refilling for foreclosure. The FBI and state’s attorney-general are still investigating other foreclosure practices and have reportedly uncovered scores of fraudulent documents.
The courts still have over 320,000 foreclosures in the system to wade through as judges continue to find instances of fraud and incompetence as banks try to force mass filings into the court. Homeowner advocates hope that the increased scrutiny will force banks and law firms to refine their practices, or seek alternatives to foreclosures such as loan modifications.