Courts Respond to Rising Foreclosures and Conferences
After the number of foreclosure cases filed in state court plummeted during the past two years, the courts are now seeing a "markedly higher" rate of filings and coping with a rise in settlement conferences, according to an Office of Court Administration report.
Despite the sharp jump in filings, the Nov. 1 report also emphasized that an increasing amount of homeowners are getting legal representation during settlement conferences.
As of early October, there were almost 34,000 residential foreclosures filed in the court system this year. By the end of the year, filings could top 44,000 according to the report's projections.
If the numbers bear out, that would mean more filings this year than the past two years combined, when there were 25,411 foreclosure actions filed in 2012 and 16,655 actions in 2011.
The rise in filings suggests lenders' improved ability to vouch for the accuracy of their court papers in affirmations after two years of difficulties, said the report, drawing on data from October 2012 to October 2013.
The affirmation requirement was imposed by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman in October 2010. Effective Aug. 30 a "certificate of merit" replaced the affirmation requirement for new cases. The new requirement is supposed to move cases more quickly.
"This report marks a period that has seen a tremendous spike in new foreclosure filings. As a result, the number of mandated settlement conferences has soared. …Despite these staggering statistics and challenges, the percentage of represented defendants still increased. Much progress has been made in addressing the burgeoning foreclosure docket that continues to rise," said the report, noting foreclosures account for about one-third of the court system's civil caseload.
In fact, the actions could weigh down the court docket for some time to come.
As of early October, there were more than 84,000 pending foreclosures—up 16 percent from the beginning of the year when there were more than 72,000 pending foreclosure actions.