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Foreclosure Freeze: Good For Distressed Owners, Bad for South Florida Real Estate Market

The recent decision by some banks to freeze their foreclosure process while they investigate their procedures for handling foreclosures has a mixed effect on South Florida’s real estate market.  While it may be a good thing for distressed owners who really want to keep their homes, it is probably not a great thing for current buyers and the overall real estate market.  The reality of too many homeowners who bought at the height of the market, owners who are currently underwater, unemployed, or simply bought way more house than they could afford when banks were in a lending frenzy, means the majority of homes in foreclosure now probably will still be there at the end of the investigation.  Yes, there are stories of homes foreclosed improperly, including that of an owner who had paid cash on the house, and many of the banks and their foreclosure attorneys have become mills that may have filed paperwork incorrectly or downright fraudulently (this is the fraud capital of the United States, unfortunately).   These procedures should be investigated, stopped and punished.  In the meantime, buyers who are currently under contract are in limbo and the real estate market, which has been slogging through high inventories, may slow since approximately 40% of the home sales in South Florida are made up of bank-owned properties.