MORE good news from the housing front last week. Pending home sales rose 2.4 percent in July, to their highest level since April 2010. Mortgage delinquency rates are down: the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reported a decline of 6.3 percent at the end of June from the March quarter.
In stark contrast to this improving backdrop are the legal battles still being waged over wrongful foreclosure practices. The glacial progress in these cases is not surprising, given the crowded courts and combatants’ usual stalling tactics.
What is surprising is the fresh evidence these cases are turning up of cockeyed mortgage practices, during both the boom and the bust. As these matters are adjudicated, perhaps we will finally learn whether these practices were intended or accidental.
Take the problem of questionable legal fees levied on troubled borrowers. Although these costs may seem small in the scheme of things, they certainly add to the burdens of many hard-pressed Americans.
A foreclosure from Ohio highlights this problem. The facts from this matter are central to a prospective class action filed by a borrower, who contends he was charged improper court costs and legal-related fees in his foreclosure.
The case involved legal moves taken against a bank in 2007 that did not even have an interest in either of the two mortgage liens associated with the foreclosed property. Even though the bank should never have been dragged into the matter, it was — generating $775 in court costs and legal fees paid by the borrower, documents show. Only two years later, during the discovery process, did it emerge that the bank had no ownership in the underlying property.