Go to Top

The Reality Behind the Rhetoric

The St. Petersburg Times weighed in this past week on the issue of non-judicial foreclosures now under debate in Tallahassee. The editorial wonders what effect this tack would have on borrowers’ rights, state coffers, and the integrity of the foreclosure process. We’ve shared some of these very same concerns here on our blog.

If those in support of systemic change are to be believed, at least some foreclosures should be moved out of the courts for the sake of efficiency and economic interest. In order to breathe life into the housing market, they claim, we have to clear up the glut of foreclosures paralyzing the judiciary and Florida real estate. The faster we can process these foreclosures, the quicker we can get these properties off of lenders’ books and back out there for potential buyers.

It’s all about speed, we’re told, and an effort to get the economy going again.

But, as we’ve asked before, at what cost? To borrowers’ rights? To the integrity and operation of our judiciary?

And why aren’t more legislators addressing why the foreclosure process is taking so long in the first place? Perhaps if banks and mortgage servicers hadn’t been so haphazard (the most benign way of putting it) in handling foreclosures, our system would never have been overwhelmed with the scandals of “robo-signing” and the filing of dubious paperwork. And now these same forces want to remove the very judicial oversight that has safeguarded the public against rampant abuse? Is the goal to erode borrowers’ rights further and to encourage the banks to cut even more corners?

The St. Pete Times also addresses how the courts would take a big fiscal hit if more cases were moved out of the system. Though foreclosures currently make up only 8% of the judicial workload, statewide court operations are primarily funded from the filing fees necessary to process these cases. If this money’s eliminated, the state revenue to maintain the judiciary has to come from someplace else. Higher taxes? Even harsher budget cuts? And what effect will those measures have on the economy?

These are some of the tough questions we should be asking to address the reality behind some of the rhetoric in Tallahassee.

The editorial’s a worthwhile read. Click the link above and check it out.

Please be advised that this article does not constitute legal advice nor does it provide any basis to form an attorney-client relationship. Nothing in this article should be copied without the express permission of the author.

Mr. Hounchell has a law degree from The University of Florida College of Law and he is a principal in The Law Offices Charles A. Hounchell, P.A., in Tampa, Florida. Mr. Hounchell earned his undergraduate degree from The George Washington University in Washington D.C. and he obtained his MBA in International Management from the American Graduate School of International Management (“Thunderbird”) in Glendale, Arizona.

Mr. Hounchell is a licensed title insurance agent and a real estate agent with Smith and Associates, Inc. http://www.smithandassociates.com/; http://www.livecasanova.com/. He has lived in many different countries, including Spain, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and Germany and he speaks Spanish and Portuguese. A significant portion of Mr. Hounchell’s law practice is concentrated on Real Estate Law. He can be reached at 813-230-3376 or charlie@flpropertylaw.com.