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Florida foreclosures may speed up with passing of bill

Florida continues to lead the nation for foreclosures, as well as being one of the top states with the longest foreclosure process. While the national average for foreclosures is 414 days, our state’s average is 853 days. A bill to expedite Florida’s sluggish foreclosures has just been passed by the Florida House, after several attempts in the last three years to reform a lengthy process that has hurt homeowners and the housing market alike.

HB 87 aims to push foreclosures through the court system more smoothly, while creating tight standards for banks to prevent the types of foreclosure abuse that had caused many Floridians to lose their homes in recent years. However, some consumer advocates say the expedited process will make it harder for those facing foreclosure to regain their footing and stop repossession, while favoring banks that may want to repossess property quickly. The bill will also keep homeowners from regaining their property in a fraudulent foreclosure if someone else has bought the property from the lender.

In addition, opponents claim the bill’s “show cause” option for condo associations is an unfair hit on homeowners’ due process rights. A “show cause” hearing would allow condo associations to expedite foreclosures on families who are behind on their condo dues.

Supporters claim the bill will help Florida’s real estate market return to normal, and also protects homeowners by restricting them from lenders going after them for debts after foreclosure, and requiring them to prove they have necessary documents before attempting repossession.

There’s no doubt that the issue remains a touchy one. With many people struggling and facing financial challenges, foreclosure can be just one problem in a long list of worries. It may help to consult with a bankruptcy attorney to find out ways to relieve debt and stop foreclosure.

Source: Bradenton Herald, “Faster foreclosures bill clears Florida House in 87-26 vote,” April 29, 2013

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