Walk Away Homeowners Shouldn't be Suprised by Court Judgment

Posted: Oct 04, 2011 12:01 AM

Forty-one states allow lenders to sue for mortgage debt if a home fetches less than the mortgage in a foreclosure sale. It always will. Such lawsuits are one of the reasons I have consistently advised people to consult an attorney before walking away.

For a nice write-up on deficiency judgments please consider the Wall Street Journal article House Is Gone but Debt Lives On.

Joseph Reilly lost his vacation home here last year when he was out of work and stopped paying his mortgage. The bank took the house and sold it. Mr. Reilly thought that was the end of it.

In June, he learned otherwise. A phone call informed him of a court judgment against him for $192,576.71. It turned out that at a foreclosure sale, his former house fetched less than a quarter of what Mr. Reilly owed on it. His bank sued him for the rest.

The result was a foreclosure hangover that homeowners rarely anticipate but increasingly face: a "deficiency judgment."

Until recently, "there was a false sense of calm" among borrowers who went through foreclosure, Mr. Englett says. "That's changing," he adds, as borrowers learn they may be financially on the hook even after the house is gone.

Some close observers of the housing scene are convinced this is just the beginning of a surge in deficiency judgments. Sharon Bock, clerk and comptroller of Palm Beach County, Fla., expects "a massive wave of these cases as banks start selling the judgments to debt collectors."

Because most targets have scant savings, the judgments sell for only about two cents on the dollar, versus seven cents for credit-card debt, according to debt-industry brokers.

Silverleaf Advisors LLC, a Miami private-equity firm, is one investor in battered mortgage debt. Instead of buying ready-made deficiency judgments, it buys banks' soured mortgages and goes to court itself to get judgments for debt that remains after foreclosure sales.

Silverleaf says its collection efforts are limited. "We are waiting for the economy to somewhat heal so that it's a better time to go after people," says Douglas Hannah, managing director of Silverleaf.

Investors know that most states allow up to 20 years to try to collect the debts, ample time for the borrowers to get back on their feet. Meanwhile, the debts grow at about an 8% interest rate, depending on the state.

Laws vary from state to state and things may depend on whether or not the loan is a recourse loan or not. Once again, before walking away, and before considering a short-sale or bankruptcy, please consult an attorney who knows real estate laws for your state.

Manufacturing ISM Nothing to Crow About

The Institute for Supply Management released the September 2011 Manufacturing ISM Report On Business®

The PMI registered 51.6 percent, an increase of 1 percentage point from August, indicating expansion in the manufacturing sector for the 26th consecutive month, at a slightly higher rate. The Production Index registered 51.2 percent, indicating a return to growth after contracting in August for the first time since May of 2009.




PMI 51.6 50.6 +1.0 Growing Faster 26
New Orders 49.6 49.6 0.0 Contracting Same 3
Production 51.2 48.6 +2.6 Growing From Contacting 1
Employment 53.8 51.8 +2.0 Growing Faster 24
Supplier Deliveries 51.4 50.6 +0.8 Slowing Faster 28
Inventories 52.0 52.3 -0.3 Growing Slower 2
Customers' Inventories 49.0 46.5 +2.5 Too Low Slower 30
Prices 56.0 55.5 +0.5 Increasing Faster 27
Backlog of Orders 41.5 46.0 -4.5 Contracting Faster 4
Exports 53.5 50.5 +3.0 Growing Faster 27
Imports 54.5 55.5 -1.0 Growing Slower 25

OVERALL ECONOMY Growing Faster 28
Manufacturing Sector Growing Faster 26

A Bloomberg writer managed to managed to spin those ISM numbers into the headline U.S. Stocks Fall as Concern Over Greek Debt Crisis Offsets Economic Data stating "Earlier today, stocks rose as a report showed that manufacturing in the U.S. unexpectedly accelerated in September as production picked up, easing concern the world’s largest economy is stalling."

That is complete silliness. Exactly whose concern is eased?

A new concern ought to be the expansion in hiring and production while orders and especially backlog of orders is contracting.

Manufacturers are producing at an unsustainable rate. The global economy is rapidly cooling led by Europe, Asia, and Australia. That is a lot of downside leadership. The US is not immune and indeed is likely in recession already as noted in ECRI Calls Recession Based on "Contagion in Forward Indicators"; Just How Timely is the Call?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

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