Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Recently Issued State Supreme Court "Produce The Note" Rule Holding Down New Foreclosure Filings In Florida?

In South Florida, The Sun Sentinel reports:
  • Foreclosure filings have decreased this year, but it may not be a brightening economy causing the decline. Broward County had 7,134 homes and condos in some stage of foreclosure last month, down 31 percent from April 2009, according to RealtyTrac Inc. In Palm Beach County, foreclosure filings dropped 36 percent from March, county officials said. Partly responsible: a new Florida Supreme Court rule that requires lenders to verify they are the actual owners of a home before making the initial case for foreclosure. Show me the "note," in other words.


  • The new rule was approved in February with the intention of unclogging the foreclosure courts, which have an estimated statewide backlog of 500,000 cases. It also gives judges power to sanction plaintiffs who make false accusations on the ownership of notes, or missing notes. "I believe it has affected the number of new filings," said Palm Beach County Circuit Court Judge Meenu Sasser, who handles the county's foreclosures. "It streamlines the process.

  • Law firms handling the foreclosure overload, sometimes called foreclosure mills, have routinely filed a "lost note" claim with the original default notice, regardless of whether they looked for the note, said Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Jennifer Bailey. [...] When asked what efforts were made to find the note, however, such excuses as "searched file cabinet" and "searched fire proof safe" have appeared on several court records.

  • "It was very confusing. How can you foreclose on the note if the note is lost?" Bailey said. "The judges would be trying to track the note and they're saying they own it, but don't have it and don't know where it is." But if a borrower didn't protest the foreclosure, the cases often sailed through. [...] Bailey, who was on the foreclosure task force, said the rule wasn't needed before the real estate boom when home loans were more straightforward and foreclosures fewer. "There's some weird stuff going on," she said.

For more, see Banks must prove ownership to foreclose homes.