Fraudclosure Times | How Many Days Does it Take to Foreclose in Florida?

FORECLOSURE TIMES

BY LYNN E. SZYMONIAK, ESQ., ED., FRAUD DIGEST

How many days does it take to foreclose in Florida? The average number of days for a foreclosure action to be completed is often reported, and usually accompanied by a criticism that the process is too unwieldy. The long foreclosure process has often been blamed for the nation’s slow economic recovery. The discussion often moves quickly from “How long does it take?” to “How long should it take?”

While bank lawyers often argue that the foreclosure system should be changed so that foreclosures can move quickly through the courts, foreclosure defense advocates often point to due process horror stories like the recent story of Chief Circuit Judge Alan Dickey in Seminole County, Florida, who scheduled 300 foreclosure cases for three days, saying, “If everybody shows up, I’ll have about 30 seconds a case.”

Realty Trac provides the statistics in most stories. Realty Trac reported in January, 2012, that in Florida it took an average of 806 days to complete a foreclosure, the third longest time in the nation. New York reportedly took the longest to foreclose – 1,019 days and New Jersey was second at 964 days.

An examination of actual foreclosure cases in Palm Beach County does not support the Realty Trac findings. In this study, all of the cases filed by a major forecloser, Deutsche Bank National Trust Company (“DBNTC”), in December, 2009, were examined. DBNTC filed 170 new cases in December 2009.

Of the 170 cases, 76 cases (43.5%) remained open as of January 15, 2012.

54 of the cases were closed with entry of a final judgment of foreclosure.

40 of the cases were voluntarily dismissed by DBNTC. In many cases, a voluntary dismissal indicates the parties have reached a settlement. In foreclosures, it is also common for a bank to dismiss when the file is being transferred to another firm, a very common occurrence.

Of the cases with voluntary dismissals, the average time from filing to dismissal was 342 days.

Of the cases closed with a final judgment of foreclosure, the average number of days from the initial filing to the closing of the case was 345 days. A few cases continue long after the entry of a final judgment of foreclosure, because of post-judgment motions to re-open or set aside the final judgment. In such cases, the actual sales date was used as the end date.

Of the 94 resolved cases, 58 (62%) were resolved in less than one year.

In many of the open cases, there had been very little effort by the banks to move the case to a final resolution. It was not unusual to find open cases where there had been no docketed activity for over six months, and there were numerous cases where there had been no docketed activity for over one year.

When a foreclosure is completed, and the home sold, it is often sold for less than half of the amount of the original loan. The median sales price for existing homes in Palm Beach County fell from $406,800 in June, 2005 to $183,700 in November, 2011. A trustee may actually benefit, in the short term, from prolonging the foreclosure process because the final realized loss does not have to be reported to investors until the sale, thus allowing the trustee to delay the inevitable bad news to the investors. The servicer certainly benefits as the average servicer fees for servicing a loan in foreclosure are often three to five times the fees for servicing a performing loan. There were a few hard-fought cases, with discovery disputes
appearing regularly on the docket. In such cases, these disputes often involved delays by the banks in responding to discovery requests by the homeowner/defendants, particularly where the banks were asked to produce trust-related documents such as the Pooling and Servicing Agreement from the trust or original loan documents. Many of the cases involved Affidavits of Lost Notes and Lost Mortgages. The delays were caused by the plaintiff/bank.

This study will be expanded to include an entire calendar quarter and the other major foreclosers, Bank of America and Chase. It will include data from Hillsborough and St. Johns counties.

Below are the details of the action on the 170 DBNTC foreclosure cases filed in Palm Beach County in December, 2009.

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4closureFraud.org

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FORECLOSURE TIMES

Comments
3 Responses to “Fraudclosure Times | How Many Days Does it Take to Foreclose in Florida?”
  1. Michael says:

    I would be interested to know if Lynn has recognized any sort of pattern regarding, specifically, foreclosures that seem to be stretched out for the longest periods of time.

    I have been trying to find a pattern here in GA. (Which is a nonjudicial state, and may involve different factors based upon that alone.)

    Some of the factors I have been considering include: which foreclosure mill is involved, which (purported) lender is involved, which servicer is involved, which document mill is involved, GSE involvement, MERS involvement, LPS involvement, whether or not any sort of foreclosure defense was originally put forth, (and then if the defense was waged with professional legal help or pro se), whether or not there was a lis pendens filed by the homeowner, zip code of the property, county in which property is located, price range of the property, how far underwater the property is based upon a Zillow or Trulia-type of database, condition of the property, inventory of homes on the market for a particular area, whether or not there is a high HOA fee….

    Does anyone out there have any other suggestions? Is anyone out there making any empirical observations that I might want to consider?

    I do research for several foreclosure defense attorneys, and I am trying to come up with a way to “triage” the cases. Due to the unfortunate fact that there are more cases out there than the foreclosure defense lawyers can take on, I would, ideally, like to have the ability to better separate out the cases that are out there and are likely to languish indefinitely, and the ones that are in more imminent danger of actual dispossession.

    Most months we are working the craziest hours on the cases that are in imminent danger of 1) dispossession, and 2) actual auction of the property.

    I have researched some cases in which an auction is conducted but the foreclosure deed is not filed within the 90 day window, as stipulated by state law. (Which, in such cases, one is forced to wonder if this is a “feature,” not a “bug.”) I have also worked on cases in which actual dispossessories have been granted but Mr. Sheriff just never seems to show up.

    Anyway, it does appear that there are some properties that the foreclosing entity doesn’t actually want back. If I could make a judgement as to which properties those are likely to be, it would help from the standpoint of our allocation of time and adrenaline!

    Thanks in advance for any feedback on this issue.

  2. Glenda Chauncy says:

    Thanks Lynn for using the latest statistic in your digest. Chief Justice Alan A Dickey foreclosing on 300 properties in 3 days, 100 per day, giving those who “show up” 30 seconds to defend themselves is so disgusting in my opinion. The next 3 days, for me, will be a lasting impression of how easily our CIVIL RIGHTS and DUE PROCESS is VIOLATED on so many levels. It reminds me of why all Americans SHOULD stand up in what the believe is the right thing…I am STANDING, WATCHING and won’t back down. JUST WISH Seminole County homeowners today had our support at the courthouse!!! BUT, what a great follow up story from 60 Minutes to show even though families living in hotels….it didn’t really doesn’t matter the next 3 days…how shameful is that???

  3. PaulR says:

    Great stuff, Lynn — as always. I’ll be anxious to see what the data from BofA and from St. Johns County shows.

    In RealtyTrac’s data, if a foreclosure was filed twice, and each time voluntarily dismissed by the lender, and if they now filed a new Lis Pendens . . . would that count as a “new” foreclosure filing, for the purposes of their data?

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