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Tag: RealtyTrac

Zombie Housing Apocalypse Arrives

English: U.S. Household Property Foreclosure C...

English: U.S. Household Property Foreclosure Chart 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Zombie Housing Apocalypse Arrives

Foreclosed ‘Zombie’ Homes Exceed 300,000 Properties: Study

A national survey found 301,874 “zombie” properties dotting the U.S. landscape in which homeowners in foreclosure have moved out, leaving vacant property susceptible to vandalism and degradation.
Florida tops the list of zombie properties with 90,556 vacant homes in foreclosure, according to a foreclosure inventory released on Thursday by RealtyTrac, a real estate information company in Irvine, California.
Illinois and California ranked a distant second and third with 31,668 and 28,821 zombie properties respectively on the list.
The number of homes overall in foreclosure or bank-owned rose by 9 percent to 1.5 million properties nationally in the first quarter of 2013 compared to a year ago, according to RealtyTrac.
Another 10.9 million homeowners nationwide remain at risk because they owe more than their property is worth, according to company vice president Daren Blomquist.
RealtyTrac for the first time analyzed data on zombie properties after a Reuters’ special report in January examined the special problem of zombie titles, Blomquist said.
Reuters revealed the plight of people who walked away from their homes not realizing that their names remained on the deed and that they were financially liable for taxes and other bills related to the abandoned property.

Foreclosed ‘Zombie’ Homes Exceed 300,000 Properties: Study

 

The zombie apocalypse has arrived but it’s not people risen from the dead, it’s houses. Our broken, ill administered foreclosure system has produced this mess. But don’t worry, Congress will quickly and simply fix the problem. Whoops! I forgot who I was talking about, the greatest band of malingerers since George III sent appointees to run the colonies.

Vital housing that could be used to shelter the nation’s homeless and unfortunate is decaying into wreckage while the homeowners – a colloquial phrase for those driven from their homes by a mortgage industry as calculating, cold and inhuman as the Martians in H.G. Wells, War of the Worlds.

See if I am mistaken: (From the opening paragraph of the book.)

“No one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man’s and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same.”

The law has not kept up in this relationship between predator and prey, and we all suffer for it. Foreclosure should pass the duty of care to the banks and not compound the misery of losing one’s home with an avalanche of fees to shatter any remnant of security and pride.

James Pilant

From around the web:

From the web site, Foreclosure Defense Group:

GG has been successfully fighting the banksters since 2008 and continues that battle today. She is still in her happy home, but the capitalist onslaught is relentless. On February 14th (although a judge had promised her personally that it wouldn’t happen), the court sent an eviction order to the Alameda County Sheriff to evict her, her roommate and all furniture and personal belongings.

From the web site, The Foreclosure Detonator:

Values declined not because of the market, they declined because those very same banks who oppose these write downs created this mess by providing mortgages to almost anyone creating a housing boom that was destined to crash.  Yes, they know what they were doing but greed took control of corporate governance and patriotic spirit.  The attitude of  let’s rake in as much cash as we can then when it all fails we can take back all those homes and rake in even more cash for homes we have no investment in.

And from the web site, Foreclosure Testimony /:

What is a Wrongful Foreclosure Action?

A wrongful foreclosure action is an action filed in superior court by the borrower against the servicer, the holder of the note, and usually the
foreclosing trustee. The complaint usually alleges that there was an “illegal, fraudulent or willfully oppressive sale of property under a power of sale contained in a mortgage or deed of trust.” Munger v. Moore (1970) 11 CA.App.3d. 1. The wrongful foreclosure action is often brought prior to the non-judicial foreclosure sale in order to delay the sale, but the action may also be brought after the non-judicial foreclosure sale. …

Looking Back at One Media Story about the Foreclosure Crisis

You wake up in the morning hoping and praying that some justice will be meted out to the giant foreclosure industry for the crimes they have committed. In that hope is mixed the great sorrow for all the people who have suffered the loss of their homes in this foreclosure crisis.

Now, let’s go back a little in time and see how the crisis was treated by the public’s stalwart defenders in the press. Obviously, once the stories of owned foreclosed, shabby procedures and busted paperwork trail, the press was eager to fight for the public.

Not exactly, more of a yawn and a condemnation of the homeowners who owed too much.

In mid 2010, the beltway press knew it was all overblown. It has become a bit overblown in some tellings.“ You see, “there’s little evidence that this has resulted in improper foreclosures..” You see, “Anectdotally, these things do seem to have happened…” At that time we had only heard the occasional, once in a while, sort of, story about some poor schmuck losing his property.

This is from the Atlantic Monthly, an article called – The Real Scandal of the Foreclosure Mess – October 8th, 2010 – by Megan McCardle –

The story on the foreclosure mess has become a bit overblown in some tellings. It’s clear that banks have been taking some shortcuts in preparing their foreclosure documents. The banks are obviously overwhelmed with the volume of foreclosures, and the (apparently) many instances in which sloppy securitization has resulted in lost paper trails, obscuring who, exactly has a right to foreclose. Rather than seeking legislative or judicial clarification, they’ve resorted to dubious practices that seem (to my non-legally-trained eye) illegal.

That is bad. But as Arnold Kling points out, there’s little evidence that this has resulted in improper foreclosures: evicting people who’ve paid, or who never had a mortgage with your company. Anectdotally, these things do seem to have happened, but there’s no evidence that they’re frequent, or that they are connected to the procedural irregularities that we’re now discovering with foreclosure documents.

Arnold says that the real scandal is our antiquated title system:

The real scandal is that the process of recording property title is so antiquated, and there are so many interest groups that resist modernizing it. The MERS mortgage database shows what a modern system could look like. But all of the counties that charge fees for title recording, the title “insurance” companies that shake down home buyers to buy “protection” from getting sued to prove that they own their property–these interest groups want to keep the title recording system as expensive and unreliable as possible.

. . . and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.

These are my comments on the Atlantic web site –

What!? You don’t see much but “anectdotal” evidence? What were you going to see? No one knew to look until now. You can’t have statistical evidence until you know there is a problem and can look at the numbers.
Anecdotal evidence is the beginning of discovery. Sometimes it turns out that the stories lead nowhere. This time they scored big. And now, and only now, can we find out how big the problem is.
“Only anecdotal evidence” Oh, PLEASE!

And then, about five minutes later, when I got even more angry –

The saddest thing about this article is that in two years after this disaster, this legal catastrophe, when the facts and the numbers are available, no one is going to pull this article out of their Windows’ recycle bin, and wonder what in the hell possessed the author to write it.

According to the article, the “real” scandal of the mortgage crisis is 1) our antiquated title system and 2) “. . . and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.” Now, Ms. McArdle is all in agreement with Arnold Kling on the the title system being the real scandal but on the second statement (getting the people out of homes…) she disagrees. I give her full credit for disagreeing with the second statement and therefore my scorn for her writing is only for the first statement.

What?!, the antiquated title system is the real scandal? I cannot generate enough invective for this statement. The world is too short of obscenities for me to throw at it. Let’s just go to the next one.

“… and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.”

Let me tell you a story… About ten years ago, housing prices began to go up but strangely the ease of buying them multiplied. Banks began to demand less and less evidence of credit history and salary down to the point where they eventually just filled in the blanks. This lack of oversight was because the great financial institutions of this nation were packaging mortgages as securities and using them as chips in the great game of casino capitalism. It was a strange time, in which the Internet was utterly blanketed by ads calling upon you to refinance your credit card debts – mortgage your home or to refinance your home for a lower rate. By about 2005, that something was terribly wrong was becoming clear. But the the regulatory agencies, the Congress, the Presidency, the financial press or the “Fed” did nothing about it. The selling if anything became more frenzied. Banks hired celebrities to participate in sales meetings in the black communities. Phone banks and mailings to those who rented and those who owned their own homes or even to those who were about to finish paying their mortgages proliferated. The messages was always the same, re-mortgage for lower rates, re-mortgage to pay off debts and the best one, buying a home is cheaper than rent. Many of the ads were carefully aimed at first time home buyers counting on their lack of financial sophistication to smooth the process. In 2006, the boom was pretty much exhausted, but the great financial institutions nursed it along for the next year by trading securities based on mortgages to the foolish as good investments and to each other simply to keep the market going. And then it all fell down.

“… and that it’s taking so long to get people out of homes they can’t afford.”

Simple statement. Factually correct.

They signed the contract, didn’t they? They’re adults. They got in too deep. They have to pay the price.

That is what it looks like if you live in a skycastle. “Skycastles,” that’s where people live so high and so far above the common herd, that they and only they can see what’s real, where the air is clear and the thoughts razor sharp.

From there they watch the little people like bacteria on a petri dish and wonder why God made so many, unless their cold hard intellects have freed them from religious delusions.

I’m down here with the other inconsequential. I say that these people were victimized and deserve mercy. These people did what the government, the media, and the financial industry told them was the intelligent, the correct and the best decision. These people were generally misled, lied to directly and were often the victims of fraud.

But I don’t live in a skycastle.

James Pilant

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