Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Homeowner Lawsuits Challenging Foreclosures Skyrocket In New Hampshire With Many Finding Their Way Into Federal Court

The New Hampshire Business Review reports:

  • A Swanzey woman claims a mortgage originator deliberately lied about her income in order to push through a refinancing, and then the bank pressured her husband -- suffering from dementia -- to sign on to the mortgage to make it easier to foreclose on the property.

  • A Wolfeboro borrower claims that he wanted to pay off the note in full, but couldn't get a straight accounting from the bank. Indeed, the bank even cited the wrong date, book and page number and parties when recording the mortgage assignment.

  • Another borrower claims he was told by a bank to stop paying the mortgage on his Jackson home in order to qualify for a modification program, and then he was given the runaround when he tried to get on the program, and then the bank filed for foreclosure, telling him it was too late to be eligible.

  • Whether any of these claims is true is up to courts to decide. But these are the kinds of complaints against major banks being made in the state, and now federal, courts as a small but growing number of homeowners begin to challenge foreclosures.

  • In 2011, about 210 homeowners -- or 5.5 percent of the 3,863 foreclosure deeds filed in New Hampshire that year -- sued their mortgage company, almost triple the 75 (2.1 percent) that filed suit in 2008. This year, if the pace keeps up, about 240 will be filed.

  • "Banks' actions are egregious, and more and more people are doing something about it," said Jeremey A. Miller, a Concord attorney who specializes in defending homeowners from foreclosure.
  • Nearly all of the mortgage companies, based out of state, have the right to move these cases to federal courts, and are increasingly doing so because they say the federal court bureaucracy moves much quicker. "I'm sure it does," said Don Goodnow, the director of the New Hampshire Administrative Office of the Courts, which works with the state's courts. "It is better funded."

  • But Concord attorney Miller sees the move to federal courts as an attempt by mortgage companies to intimidate homeowners by moving their suit "to a big granite building in Concord."

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