It was sensible. It was reasonable. It went something like this: If you didn’t pay your mortgage for 90 days, a Notice of Default was filed. You got 90 more days to pay, and if you didn’t then a Notice of Trustees Sale was published, and if you still couldn’t pay, your home was sold to the highest bidder 21 days later at the county courthouse steps. The total process from the days the NOD was filed took 111 days. Ah, the good old days. If only things were so simple today.
In today’s world there is no obvious rhyme or reason to the manner in which foreclosure is conducted. The average home in foreclosure doesn’t actually go to auction until (Ready for this?) 461 days after the NOD is filed! Some take substantially longer than that. Some people might say that given the overwhelming numbers of people in foreclosure today, and the existence of a genuine crisis for so many, this could be a good thing. It could help someone when they need it most. Although it can feel that way for many people, I couldn’t disagree more.
Although it can indeed be helpful for someone to have an extended period during which no mortgage payment is demanded of them, the real issue arises from the fact that there are simply no rules anyone can count on any more. The average homeowner is lulled into a sense of complacency after 400 odd days of not having made a mortgage payment. And when the bank finally does decide to foreclose it’s akin to a hard unexpected left to the jaw.
I talk to people all the time who literally believe that the bank won’t foreclose. Who could blame them for such a thought? When the original Trustee’s Sale was scheduled, they trembled at the knees, and scrambled for a way out. But the original Trustee’s Sale came and went. And so it was with the 2nd 3rd and 4th extension the bank – for no apparent reason – granted.
After a while, a new Trustee’s Sale Date was old news. It lacked teeth. No one paid much attention until it suddenly it was too late. At the 11 (hundredth) hour, the bank finally got around to doing what they should have done 300 days earlier, and with no uniquely different warning than they had been giving for over a year, they swiped the property out from under the (by now) unsuspecting homeowner’s feet.
Standardized foreclosure procedures, although tough give people something to latch onto. A time frame to work within. Something they can count on at a time filled with chaos.
Now I’m all for the banks giving a little extra leniency during these difficult economic times. But please, let’s dole this out in an at least somewhat uniform manner. People need parameters to work within. And when homeowner’s are lulled into complacency, or worse a false sense of security, no one wins.