In the years since South Florida’s housing market began its historic crash, a debilitating ripple effect has spread to many of the region’s institutions, sparking a number of satellite problems, ranging from fabricated foreclosure documents to faulty mortgage note transfers.
Major lenders, local governments and county courts have spent the last three years trying to deal with the fallout from the housing crisis. Each institution quickly found out it was unprepared and undermanned to handle the crisis, and most have been trying to play catchup ever since.
“I don’t think they realized how long it was going to extend and how deep it was going to go,” said Shari Olefson, a Fort Lauderdale lawyer and author of Foreclosure Nation. “People made mistakes rushing into the crisis, but I think people are making the same mistakes trying to rush out of it.”
Banks losing track of mortgage notes and foreclosure law firms fabricating documents are perfect examples of those mistakes, she said.
As institutions have struggled to adjust to the housing downturn, distressed homeowners have borne the brunt of the crisis, falling prey to long wait times, lost documents and, in some cases, fraud.
The long-term impact of these institutional log-jams remains to be seen, but housing analysts say the robo-signing scandal, modification mix-ups and growing foreclosure case backlogs are likely to extend the housing downturn for years to come.
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