Archive for April 2nd, 2013

Foreclose Faster, Help Florida’s Economy … Say What?

I’m perusing foreclosure-related stories and I’m struck by a quote by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey, who said:

“There is a consensus across the state that the locked up backlog [of foreclosure cases] is contributing to Florida’s economic difficulties, and the only way out of this is through it … We’ve been charged by the Supreme Court with this funding to move these cases.’’

This quote was part of an article in the Miami Herald discussing the pitfalls of rocket dockets, but let’s put aside those concerns for a minute.  As hard as it might be, forget your concerns about due process and homeowners’ rights and think about the premise of this statement.  A Florida judge is saying there’s a “consensus” across Florida that foreclosures have to be pushed through the system to help the economy.

Do foreclosures HELP the economy?  Really?

Throwing homeowners onto the streets HELPS the economy?

I’m sorry, but I think this is totally wrong.

I understand the rationale behind this position.  “By foreclosing faster, those houses go on the market sooner, and a new buyer will purchase that house.”  In theory, that may sound good.  But has anyone actually checked to see if this works in practice?  I have, and it doesn’t.  You see, middle class families aren’t buying these homes after foreclosures.  Nope.  Instead, the banks are taking title to these properties en masse, as they can outbid anyone since their judgment amounts are so much greater than the properties are actually worth.  Then these properties are sold in bulk to rich investors – hedge funds, basically.

Don’t believe me?  Read this.  Or try googling “Blackstone Florida foreclosures.”  Read the articles yourself.  Blackstone is one of the hedge funds that has bought hundreds of millions worth of foreclosed properties in Florida for the purpose of renting them out.

Really?  That’s why we are foreclosing faster … so the managers of a hedge fund can pocket hundreds of millions more in profits, turning thousands of Florida homeowners into tenants?

Do you know what helps Florida’s economy, in my view?  Foreclosure defense lawyers.  I know, I know … that’s terribly arrogant, even obnoxious.  But hear me out.

Over the past few years, I’ve talked to hundreds, even thousands of homeowners who have been able to save money while their foreclosure lawsuit was pending.  $10,000.  $20,000.  $50,000.  Even $100,000 … by doing nothing except saving money while their foreclosure case was pending.  This is money they can use to get back onto their feet, buy a new home, and restore their lives financially.

Many other homeowners weren’t able to save money despite years of living in their house because they are unemployed or disabled.  These homeowners would literally have nowhere to go if foreclosed, but they got to live in their house because they defended their case.

That’s thousands of homeowners who have accumulated cash they otherwise wouldn’t have, or had a place to live when they otherwise wouldn’t, merely because they defended their foreclosure case.

So you tell me … what helps the economy more?  Foreclosure lawyers like me who help homeowners save money and get back on their feet financially (or stay in their houses when they have nowhere else to go)?  Or pushing through foreclosures faster so hedge funds and rich investors can buy more properties?

For me, the answer here is obvious.

This, more than anything, is why I have so much passion for what I do.  I know foreclosure defense helps people.  I know it changes people’s lives.  I know it improves the economy – certainly more than foreclosing faster so a hedge fund can add another property to its portfolio.

I only wish everyone saw it this way.

Mark Stopa

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