Guest Post

I met Tom Murray about 12 years ago. I was President of my home owners association. The Board was looking for an attorney to handle some of the challenges of our community. I spent some time on the internet looking and came up with his name. Tom interviewed with our Board and we hired him. Tom introduced me to Community Association Institute which provides information and education to community associations and the professionals who support them. Tom was President at the time of the local chapter of CAI. He recruited me to be a Board member. I was on the local board for about 6 years and was President in 2001. Tom has represented 100’s of community associations over the years and has vast knowledge and experience dealing with their challenges. I give you Tom…

Indiana HOAs See Mortgage Foreclosures Picking Back Up
Our office has seen a noticeable increase in mortgage foreclosures that are now proceeding forward. Indiana has historically had one of the highest mortgage foreclosure rates in the country. When the economy and real estate market declined about three years ago, mortgage companies began to acquire more and more homes as a result of foreclosure suits. Mortgage companies took title to many homes that were “upside down” or “under water”, meaning that the homes had no equity. That, coupled with the difficulty of selling any homes within the last couple of years, led to a spiraling-down effect. Mortgage companies were stuck with more and more properties that they simply could not sell, so their inventory of homes started to stock pile.

A couple of years ago, our office started noticing that many mortgage foreclosure suits were in a holding pattern. Before the real estate bubble burst, we would regularly advise our HOA clients that once a mortgage foreclosure suit was filed, it would take somewhere between 6 to 9 months for the suit to end up at a sheriff’s sale. Normally, the mortgage company was the only bidder and took ownership of the home. However, beginning a couple years ago, we noticed that the mortgage companies simply were not moving forward with foreclosure suits that they had filed. We then saw the “robo signing” controversy, complete with Congressional hearings. That further led to the slowdown of mortgage foreclosure suits.

In early 2011, we were receiving more and more notices that mortgage companies were dismissing lawsuits that had been pending for months. Their attorneys were telling the judges that they came to some sort of an agreement with the homeowner. Until recently, this was an extremely rare occurrence.

Over the past three or four months, we have noticed an increase in pleadings that the attorneys for the mortgage companies are filing with the courts. In particular, there is much more activity in foreclosure suits that have been pending for 1 or even 2 years so that the suits are finally getting “back on track”. Mortgage companies are asking judges to issue foreclosure decrees. If a foreclosure decree was previously issued, they are now setting a sheriff’s sale. From our perspective, this is what was typical up until 2-3 years ago.

I have absolutely no scientific data to back up any of the above statements! However, since our firm represents hundreds of homeowners associations and condominiums, I can certainly spot trends! In case you don’t know, a homeowners association is typically named as a party in a mortgage foreclosure suit because of the association’s lien rights against the homeowner’s property. In Indiana, even though a first mortgage has priority over any lien that a homeowners association may have for delinquent assessments, the association is still typically named as a party in the lawsuit. Thus, we have filed our appearance in thousands of cases over the years where a mortgage company is foreclosing on a homeowner. Whenever we file our appearance with the court, we are automatically notified of new developments in each case.

Unfortunately, there is little we can do to speed up the process, and it is typically difficult to give associations an accurate timeline for when the mortgage foreclosure will be completed. I note, however, that community associations, too, have the right of foreclosing a lien for unpaid assessments. In some cases, this may get the mortgage company to move forward, as they would be named in such an action. In numerous other cases, we have had clients get paid in full by the owner. Sometimes, our clients have completed the foreclosure process and recouped their money by renting the property after taking title at a sheriff’s sale.

For more information on mortgage foreclosures or association lien foreclosures, please contact us.

P. Thomas Murray, Jr.
Eads Murray & Pugh, P.C.

This article is not intended to be construed as specific legal advice. It is provided for informational purposes only. For specific questions and circumstances, the association’s attorney should be consulted.

Eads Murray & Pugh P.C.
9515 E. 59th Street, Suite B
Indianapolis, Indiana 46216
Eads Murray & Pugh, P.C.

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