Reduction in Wisconsin Foreclosure Filings, Not a Trend

22 - Dec - 2010
Credit Card Debt

Improperly Submitted Foreclosure Documents

In Wisconsin, foreclosure filings fell in November to their lowest total in two years. With unemployment rates rising, this was a curious development. Analysts were quick to point out that this apparent good news masked the real reason for the decline.

For the past few months, there have been revelations that banks and major lenders like Bank of America and JP Morgan improperly submitted foreclosure documents using techniques called “robo signing.” This involved lenders’ employees attested to or signed off on thousands of mortgage documents without having read or reviewed them. The consequence is that there might be no proof that a loan was properly sold. Thus, the company that tried to foreclose on a home might not have had the authority to do so.

The downturn in Wisconsin foreclosure filings is reportedly a consequence of the documentation fraud investigation that slowed filings across the country, allowing some homeowners to challenge their foreclosures. However, analysts and those monitoring foreclosures in the state do not feel that the decline is a trend. A key fact is that just two months earlier, foreclosure filings in Wisconsin set a one-month record. Further, the delinquency rate in home mortgages rose in the third quarter to 6.72 percent from 6.65 percent. Banks and lenders have been cleaning up their procedures and returning to the courts, so defaulting homeowners might not be in their homes much longer.

Homeowners facing foreclosure should consult with an attorney to explore their legal options. The federal loan modification initiative known as the Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was designed to assist qualified homeowners in reducing their monthly mortgage payments or in using short sales and deeds in lieu of foreclosure. An attorney can help you determine eligibility and the viability of a short sale.

Another alternative with which an attorney can assist you is filing for bankruptcy protection under either Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. A Chapter 7 filing, if you meet the means test, would temporarily stay a foreclosure proceeding and provide time to sell your property, although the lender would ask the court to lift the stay and allow it to continue with the foreclosure. A Chapter 7 would, however, wipe out unsecured debt, which might allow you to meet your mortgage payments.

An attorney can also explain the benefits and your eligibility for a Chapter 13 filing, which reorganizes your debts and allows you to make repayments over a three- to five-year period. This would also stay any foreclosure proceedings and permit you to make up any past-due mortgage payments during this time.

If you are in financial hardship, your situation may seem daunting and overwhelming. Speak to an attorney knowledgeable in debt relief matters to evaluate your situation and help you pursue the best option for you and your family.

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