Monday, November 30, 2009

Massachusetts Mortgage Foreclosure Backlog

To foreclose on a mortgage in Massachusetts it is standard practice for the foreclosing mortgagee to file an action in the Land Court for a declaration that the homeowner isn't in the active duty military. This is done in order for a mortgagee to comply with its duty to get a fair sale price at the foreclosure auction. Due to certain protections under the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA), a buyer can't be sure that the sale won't be invalidated due to the military service status of the defaulting homeowner, and therefore might pay less for the house, that is unless there is an order of a court or some other conclusive proof that the homeowner isn't under the protection of the SCRA. The bottom line: in Massachusetts, these Land Court SCRA lawsuits are standard before any foreclosure takes place.
Today I spoke with a contact at the Massachusetts Land Court and was informed that so-called "return dates" were about four and a half months out in cases filed now. What that means is that once a homeowner is served with a SCRA lawsuit, they will now still usually have four to five months before a foreclosure auction. That's a significant backlog when contrasted against the six weeks turn around time from filing to return date that used to be the norm in SCRA actions.