One of the well known ways to stop a home foreclosure is to file for bankruptcy. The foreclosure proceedings are temporarily halted as the bankruptcy proceedings move forward. Apparently another way to deal with a foreclosure is to do nothing, if you live in Palm Beach County.
For a number of reasons, home foreclosures in Palm Beach County are backlogged. According to news sources, almost 7,000 foreclosure cases are on the books, some of them since 1997. Most of the so-called “zombie files” date back to the recent burst of the housing bubble. There are 39,252 foreclosure cases pending in Palm Beach County, and the zombie files are about 17 percent of them.
As a practical matter, this means that some homeowners, who are behind in their mortgages, may be living in their homes for years without making any mortgage payments.
There are several reasons why these foreclosures have fallen through the cracks. Reliable sources say there are a number of reasons for the stalled foreclosures.
- Forgetting to request a dismissal once an agreement was made
- Pending homeowner bankruptcy
- Loan modification negotiations in progress
- Bank neglect
- Lack of judges to process the foreclosures
There are recourses for the homeowner according to experts. When nothing has happened for 10 months, the homeowner can ask for a dismissal based on non-prosecution. The bank then has 60 days to react or the case could be tossed out and the bank would need to re-start foreclosure proceedings.
Apparently that has not been happening, although news sources say that one-time funding from the state will enable Palm Beach County to hire additional judges to clear out the old foreclosures.
In the meantime, some homeowners continue to live in their homes and wait for something to happen.
Source: The Palm Beach Post, “The zombie files: Nearly 7,000 stagnating foreclosure cases lie dormant in Palm Beach County’s courts,” Kimberly Miller, April 15, 2012