December 12 2019
Oregon is bucking a declining national trend in new foreclosure filings with a big increase in April, all of it from one loan servicer, The Oregonian reported.
The surge in "notices of default" by Bank of America Corp.'s foreclosure arm, ReconTrust Co., boosted the number of notices in Oregon by 236 percent, to 3,700 from 1,100, according to figures from ForeclosureRadar.com.
Another foreclosure data tracker, Realty Trac Inc., showed 3,200 notices in Oregon. Nationally, Realty Trac said the number declined by 14 percent in April.
The increase in April filings follows a jump in cancelled foreclosures filed by ReconTrust in late February and March. Those came after rulings by federal judges halting out-of-court foreclosures in Oregon, saying lenders failed to follow state recording law.
The judges said documents showing the successive chain of mortgage ownership had not been publicly filed in county recorders' offices.
Bank of America spokesperson Jumana Bauwens said the withdrawals and new filings resulted from a review late last year of its foreclosure process when it halted sales in all 50 states.
"We wanted to provide our customers with every opportunity for home retention as well as ensure all foreclosure filing were completed with our improved process," Bauwens said in an email to The Oregonian last week.
"As we entered April, we began initiating filings with that improved process. The filings in April may or may not be those held back in February and/or March," Bauwens said.
But real-estate experts say little changed with the new filings.
Phil Querin, a real-estate attorney and critic of the finance industry's handling of foreclosures, say ReconTrust's new foreclosure starts are no different.
"They're doing the same thing they were before," Querin said. "They've not recorded successive assignments."
The bank also might have been running up against a legal deadline that limits postponed foreclosures to six months, he said.
"We don't really know too much because the banks aren't talking," Querin said.
Last month, the rate of new foreclosure starts slowed but remained higher than in February, according to recorders' offices in two Portland metro area counties.
In Clackamas County, new foreclosure filings totaled 151 in March, with only 17 from ReconTrust. In April, filings spiked to 560, with 432 filed by ReconTrust. The trend was similar in Washington County, where new foreclosure starts jumped from 208 in March to 656 in April.
Attorneys say it's not clear when Oregon judges will rule definitively on the legality of mortgage recordings, many of which involve the Mortgage Electronic Registration System, or MERS.
Title insurance attorneys have suggested that lenders might start foreclosing in court, but other real estate attorneys say lenders don't want to spend that much money and will face a formidable fight from borrowers.
Information from: The Oregonian, http://www.oregonlive.com