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The Florida House voted 87-26 in favor of HB-87, which would make a bank prove in more detail that they own a mortgage or explain why they can't prove ownership. Image: ThinkStock
The Florida House voted 87-26 in favor of HB-87, which would make a bank prove in more detail that they own a mortgage or explain why they can't prove ownership. Image: ThinkStock
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Florida House Passes Bill to Speed Up Foreclosures

APR 30, 2013 1:30pm ET
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A bill aimed at speeding up the residential mortgage foreclosure process in Florida made it one step closer to becoming a law.

The Florida House voted overwhelmingly 87-26 in favor of HB-87, which would make a bank prove in more detail that they own a mortgage or explain why they can’t prove ownership.

Additionally, the bill would give condo associations an opportunity to speed up foreclosures by participating in a “show cause” hearing in which a judge can close out a case more quickly.

Another provision of HB-87 is that it reduces the time banks have to go after deficiency judgments from five years to one year. The bill also accelerates the foreclosure process by taking cases off the regular docket by allowing senior, or semi-retired, judges to hear foreclosure matters to relieve the backlog of cases.

The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, said her bill preserves due-process rights for distressed homeowners while trying to stimulate Florida’s real estate market by getting foreclosed properties “back into the stream of commerce.”

The bill also would give condo associations an opportunity to speed up foreclosures by participating in a “show cause” hearing in which a judge can close out a case more quickly.

Meanwhile, opponents of the bill believe it favors banks and does not help borrowers who are struggling to keep their homes.

“For many of us, the purchase of a home is the most significant financial investment we’ll ever make,” said Rep. Jose Javier Rodriguez, D-Miami. “We have to be extremely careful in regulating foreclosure. Many of these provisions go too far.”

The Senate is proposing a similar bill, SB-1666, but has only cleared two committee stops so far. This bill is sponsored by Pinellas County Republican Jack Latvala and is now in the Senate Judiciary Committee before it would receive a full vote.

Through the first quarter, according to RealtyTrac, Florida had the highest state foreclosure rate in which one in every 104 housing units had a foreclosure filing. Overall, a total of 85,671 properties had some sort of foreclosure filing in the Sunshine State in the first three months of this year, 7% more than the prior quarter and up 17% on an annual basis.

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