Archive for May 1st, 2012

Foreclosures … Why? Why? Why?

I’ve often wondered – sometimes silently, sometimes loudly – what those persons who are adamant about pushing foreclosures through the court system think they are accomplishing.  Who does it help when foreclosure judgments are prosecuted faster?  What is the objective here, exactly?

Proponents argue this helps the economy.  I’ve heard one local judge say it is the court’s “duty” to taxpayers.  Respectfully, you tell me … how does it help to throw homeowners onto the streets only to have those homes be uninhabited?  After all, it’s well-established at this point that banks are usually the high bidders at foreclosure sales, not third parties.  Of course, that’s when the banks actually care enough about taking title to properties to schedule the sales (as opposed to the countless cases where the banks have already prevailed, and the homeowner has moved on, yet the sales keep getting cancelled ad infinitum, for no apparent reason).

Today, I encountered a perfect example of my frustration at the foreclosure process.

Recently, the homeowner, who was trying to defend his foreclosure lawsuit on his own (a mistake, obviously, but that’s a different story), asked the judge to deny summary judgment.  He told the court he wanted to work something out with the bank.  The judge entered summary judgment anyway.  I suppose that’s understandable, if not ideal, as there was nothing filed in the case to stop the judge from entering summary judgment.

But then it got really bizarre.  After the Final Judgment was entered, and the foreclosure sale scheduled, the homeowner submitted paperwork to the bank to try to reach a resolution.  The bank agreed, and filed this this motion, asking the court to cancel the foreclosure sale.  As the motion reflected, the bank was trying to work something out with this homeowner to avoid foreclosing on this homeowner.  That’s obviously what the homeowner wanted, too, so at that point, both the bank (the plaintiff in the case) and the homeowner (the defendant in the case) were telling the court that they did not want the foreclosure sale to proceed because they wanted to reach a resolution.

So what happens?  The court issues an Order denying the motion, directing that the foreclosure sale proceed anyway.

Look, I understand the arguments about improving the economy and wrapping up old foreclosure cases.  I get it.  I might not agree, but I get it.  That said, with all due respect, I will never understand why a court will insist on a foreclosure sale going forward when the plaintiff AND the defendant agree the sale should not proceed.

If the plaintiff doesn’t want the foreclosure sale, and the defendant doesn’t want the foreclosure sale, then whose interests are being served by forcing the foreclosure sale to proceed?

I suppose I could understand this a bit better if the house was abandoned and the bank had cancelled the sale repeatedly.  In that situation, I could see an argument for forcing the sale to go forward anyway … that could be said to help the economy, forcing that house to be sold to someone else.

Here, though, the Final Judgment had just been entered, and both sides were trying to reach a resolution to keep this homeowner in his home.  With all due respect, I fail to see how anyone could think it equitable or just to require the foreclosure sale to go forward on those facts.

I just talked to Matt Weidner about this, and he raised a great point … Can you imagine this in any other context?  Husband and wife file for divorce.  The case proceeds, and the husband and wife decide they want to stay married.  Can you imagine a judge saying “no, I’m requiring you to get divorced.”?  Can you fathom that ever happening?  I doubt anyone can … so why is it acceptable in the context of foreclosure?

That really makes me wonder … why?  Why?  Why?  What are foreclosure judgments accomplishing, exactly?  And what is the court’s role in these cases?  Should the court really have the power to require a foreclosure sale when both sides are saying they don’t want the sale to proceed?  If you think so, then why?  Whose interests are being served by doing so?  What, exactly, is the point here?

Mark Stopa

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