Tuesday, July 3, 2012

New California Foreclosure Law

Because all my hard money lending is done in California and to people who buy, rehab, and sell foreclosures, this news story caught my eye. The California legislature recently passed a law making it harder to banks to foreclose on property owners. According to Reuters, the bill prohibits banks from "dual-tracking" loans - proceeding with the foreclosure process while also in loan modification negotiations with the owners. The bill also lawsuits against robo-signing. The bill still has to be signed by the governor before it becomes law, but he is expected to sign it.

On the surface, this law sounds good to me. I will freely admit the first I heard about it was from the above linked article and the facts in that article are the extent of my knowledge of it. I do think robo-signing is a big problem. When your actiosn can result in people losing their home and being forced out onto the streets, you need to have someone carefully look over the documents before foreclosing. This just stands to reason. As to the prohibition against dual-tracking, I'm OK with that as well. Yes, it may result in longer times to foreclose on a property. But if a borrower is in talks with a bank to modify their loan, I think they would reasonably conclude that the bank would pause foreclosure proceedings while they are attempting to work out a settlement. Further, without this restriction, the bank has a huge advantage at negotiating - they would be able to drag out the talks until foreclosure was a day away, leaving the borrower with no choice but to either accept the terms the bank offered or lose his or her house.

How will this affect my lending? I expect to see a slowdown in houses for sale at auction for the 6 or so months after this bill becomes law. This will represent the time banks have to wait while they attempt to reach a loan modification deal before proceeding. There is nothing in this law, to my knowledge, that requires the banks change what loan modification terms they must accept, so they will still be reaching the same decision on modifying loans or not, resulting in about the same number of houses going to foreclosure. There will just be a delay lasting the length of those negotiations.


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