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Roy Oppenheim From the Trenches: The re-emergence of the rocket docket

By Oppenheim Law on Deficiency Judgments, Florida Law, Foreclosure, Real Estate & Roy Oppenheim

I wanted to give everyone a brief overview of what is going on right now in the Florida Courts and the Florida Legislature as it relates to foreclosure. We are seeing, right now, a tidal shift in terms of what is going on. For example, in Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County, as well as other counties throughout the state, we are seeing the re-advent of the Rocket Docket, which means that the courts are once again on a tear to try and get their dockets cleared up. They got new money that has come in from…the federal settlements from the bank through the Attorney General, and so they have brought back these retired judges who are now having one thing in mind, and that is, by any cost, for any purpose, they want to get rid of their dockets and move them.

So that means a number of things. One, people will not be in foreclosure for as long as they have been in the past. Two, it means the banks will frequently not be prepared to go to trial and they, too, are gonna be suffering what I call asymmetrical situations where they may, in fact, lose at trial because they weren’t properly prepared, and people could end up getting a mortgage actually thrown out, a foreclosure thrown out, and depending on the statute of limitations, they may well even be able to end up, remarkably, keeping their home. Other situations will occur where people are preparing to try and negotiate and settle with the bank and, in fact, because of the Rocket Docket, they will not be provided that opportunity to do so, and people will end up being foreclosed faster than they wish.

What does this mean for the real estate market in Florida? It means a lot. It means that you’ll have a new supply of inventory of distressed homes coming back to the market, which some realtors like, some realtors don’t like. The market has tightened up, and so there aren’t really enough listings on the market, so this could bring new listings in the market. It also could bring too many new listings into the market at a price point that is below the market, and thus, actually preventing prices from continuing to accelerate. On the one hand, that could be good, but on the other hand, it could actually hurt the real estate market.