|Foreclosures on rise in 2012|
|The Press - News|
|Written by Joel Addington|
|Thursday, 26 April 2012 14:48|
Wells Fargo Bank recently foreclosed on Baxter resident Mary Bowlin’s former home in north Macclenny, one of 46 properties in Baker County that received foreclosure notices in the first quarter of this year.
The 79-year-old widow fell behind on the $1500-a-month mortgage payments for her two bedroom home on Linda Street after her husband died in 2010.
Ms. Bowlin said the payments to Wells Fargo jumped “a few hundred dollars” sometime before her husband’s death.
“They kept calling and I told them I couldn’t make the payments and to just go ahead and put in the foreclosure, so I just moved out,” she said. Ms. Bowlin has now moved back to the north county, where she grew up, to be closer to family.
Foreclosures filings fell nationwide by 16 percent in the first quarter of 2012, but jumped in Florida, and even more so in Baker County, compared to the same quarter last year.
Foreclosures rose about 26 percent statewide, but more than doubled in Baker County from 18 foreclosure notices in the first quarter of 2011 to 46 in the first quarter of 2012.
Most of them — 19 of the 46 — came in January. There were 11 in February and 16 more in March.
The number of quarterly foreclosure notices in Baker County climbed fairly steadily last year, rising from 18 in the first quarter to 22 in the second quarter, before reaching 34 in the fourth quarter.
According to a report from RealtyTrac, which monitors foreclosure filing nationwide, most of the rise at the start of the year occurred in states that process foreclosures via the court system, like Florida, while state’s with non-judicial foreclosures experienced declines.
Some have speculated the spike is the result of a self-imposed slow-down in foreclosure filings last year by lenders that came in response to reports of fraudulent or shoddy documentation from banks in 2010.
About 45 percent of the 2012 foreclosure filings here through March came from the nation’s five largest mortgage servicing companies: Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Citi, JPMorgan Chase and GMAC.
The companies recently settled a lawsuit brought by the US Attorney General and the attorneys general of 49 states, including Florida’s Pam Bondi, related to abusive practices.
A website created by the attorneys general says the companies “routinely signed foreclosure-related documents outside the presence of a notary public and without really knowing whether the facts contained were correct.”
The six companies pledged some $25 billion to settle the suit, which was the largest multi-state settlement since the Tobacco Settlement in 1998.
“This settlement will provide substantial relief to struggling Florida homeowners, and ensures that our state gets its fair share of the relief being provided nationally,” said Ms. Bondi in a press release following the settlement in February. “This agreement holds banks accountable and puts in place new protections for homeowners in the form of strict mortgage servicing standards.”
The settlement allows the companies to escape civil liability, but not criminal liability, for the “robo-signing” scandals that surfaced in late 2010 and exposed abuses by lenders and servicers across the country.
Florida’s share of the settlement money is approximately $8.4 billion, most of which will be used during the next three years for loan modifications, including principal reductions and refinancing at lower interest rates, and payments to those who lost their homes due to abuses by lenders, according to Ms. Bondi’s website.
Oklahoma was the only state not included in the settlement.
Authorities have also been warning the public about scammers already attempting to capitalize on the settlement.
Reports have surfaced in Alabama of scammers calling borrowers claiming to be one of the major banks involved in the settlement and offering a cash payment to customers, the attorneys general website states.
“If the caller is from your loan servicer, they will be able to tell you your personal information because they will have it,” the site reads. “You should never provide your personal information (including bank account numbers, social security numbers, etc.) to an unsolicited caller, no matter what they promise you.”
|Last Updated on Thursday, 26 April 2012 14:54|